Commuting hazards a major occupational safety issue

PETALING JAYA - Employers and employees have to collaborate and be committed to help reduce commuting accidents on our roads, says National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

"A major issue in occupational safety and health in Malaysia are accidents occuring while commuting between the home and workplace," he said in a statement yesterday.

While industrial accidents are diminishing, work-related commuting accidents have increased 38 per cent in the past five years as reported by the Social Security Organisation (Socso), he added.

"In Malaysia, there were three work-related deaths every day in 2011. Two out of the three deaths were due to commuting accidents, which indicated a serious situation in the country.

"Based on Socso's statistics, accidents happen on the way to work in the morning. It may happen because workers rush to work. Based on statistics, other underlying factors are speeding, reckless driving, handphone texting and lack of focus," he added.

Lee said the International Labour Organisation stated that 2.2 million work-related deaths occurred every year, in which 158,000 were due to commuting accidents.

"The number of road fatalities in Malaysia is alarming. There are more than 6,000 fatalities every year that translates into 18 to 20 people killed every day," said Lee, adding that motorcyclists and pillion riders made up about 60 per cent of the fatalities.

"The impact of commuting accidents is greater than industrial accidents as it normally involves multiple injuries," said Lee.

He added that the problems related to the increase in commuting accidents were lack of awareness among workers, the lack of comprehensive training programmes or the lack of commuting safety management.

Niosh is actively involved in encouraging employers to commit their employees in its defensive riding training programme.

"Employers can do much to change the attitude of their employees.

"They can help plan safer journeys and provide driver training to prevent accidents," said Lee.