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Invisible issues in safety at work

AFTER reading the report “DOSH wraps up checks, building sites to face action” (Sunday Star, March 31), I would like to share my current working experience in a construction site.

I believe site safety officers are licensed by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to ensure safety and occupational health at construction sites. But I regret to say that they emphasise more on visible “physical” safety features and practices compared to occupational health.

An invisible part of safety has been largely overlooked – the earth leakage protection system for both the temporary power supply for general use and for the passenger hoist. The missing earthing system consists of ground electrodes, earth chambers, tripping devices such as earth leakage relay and residual current circuit breakers (earth leakage circuit breaker) and earthing conductors.

Power needs to be isolated during a current leakage from any live supply to the metal bodies of power tools, scaffoldings and passenger hoist cage to prevent electrocution to site personnel.

That unfortunate accident always reminds me of the dangers posed by the absence of a lifesaving earthing system. However, the main contractor and even DOSH seem to not place sufficient emphasis on this “invisible” issue.

The present project site where I work is a breeding ground for mosquitoes despite my complaints. Water ponding occurs in lower lying areas like the basement, lift pits and a feature pool filled with water for leak tests. I would be bitten by numerous mosquitoes during inspections of the poorly-lit areas.

The safety officers employed by the main contractor were afraid to offend an irresponsible site staff from the developer/consultant’s office for frequent smoking in my shared cabin office and common conference room, which are both air-conditioned. Adding to the occupational stress (mental) is this very same person watching YouTube videos without putting on ear phones, and the sound is quite loud.

Smoking in enclosed areas and mosquito breeding are occupational issues which DOSH should include in its enforcement, besides the staged earth leakage tripping functions in the temporary power supply.

The effects of poor occupational health at the job site manifest biologically and mentally over the long term compared to the “immediate” visible broken limbs or deaths due to “tangible accidents”, which the contractor and authorities tend to focus on.


Kuala Lumpur

Sumber: The Star

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