MIRI: A certain section of the Department of Safety and Health (DOSH) Sarawak’s enforcement division would be privatised to counter the problem of insufficient manpower.
In stating this, Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran observes that the enforcement section only has 111 technical officers, which is insufficient to ensure smooth running of the department.
“The enforcement section has shortage of enforcement officers. DOSH Sarawak had applied for 50 new officers, but the government, since several years ago, had not allowed (for) additional staffing.
“We have looked at other efforts, and have proposed for a certain section of the enforcement (division) to be taken over by the private sector. This will enable the department to relieve its enforcement officers, so that they can concentrate on some other areas,” he told reporters after attending a briefing at DOSH Miri office yesterday, where Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon and DOSH Sarawak director Dr Nor Halim Hasan were also present.
Kulasegaran said the plan to privatise a section of DOSH was not something new; rather, this had started in 1998. However, the proposal had yet to take effect, he said.
“Last year when I visited Singapore, I saw that their privatised enforcement section had saved a lot of government’s money and time. The enforcement operation was also (running) much better, where complaints and corruption or allegation of this nature, had been very much reduced.
“So I’m proposing that we accelerate the proposal for privatisation. This will also allow, maybe 50 per cent of the enforcement staff to go and do other works – so they will have enough manpower to conduct investigations, audits and other things,” said the minister.
Kulasegaran disclosed that one of the most worrying things was the number of backlog of inspections throughout the country. In 2018, about 30 per cent of inspections could not be done due to insufficient manpower.
“But the situation is better in Sarawak, with only about 10 per cent of backlog. I must thank DOSH Sarawak director and his team for doing a good job,” he said, adding that the target should be to have zero backlog and zero occupational accidents.
Meanwhile, Kulasegaran was happy to note the improvement and progress shown by DOSH Sarawak over the past year.
“Last year, only 32 fatalities recorded from workplace accidents, versus 47 in 2018. This is an improvement and the reason for this could be caused by increased inspections by the DOSH,” he said.
He added that last year, DOSH also recorded a total of 28 permanent disability cases, 414, non-permanent disability cases as well as 450 cases of occupational poisoning and diseases.
“I was given to understand that some were hearing loss, because the workers were not wearing hearing(-protection) gears,” he said.
DOSH Sarawak also recorded about RM2 million in revenue and RM928,500 derived from compounds and prosecution cases last year – in comparison, DOSH revenue for the whole country was RM35 million.
That same year, a total of 1,744 punitive actions were taken against companies in Sarawak.
Touching on the incident of collapsed girder beams during the construction works on a bridge at the Pujut Link component of the Pan Borneo Highway development here last month, Kulasegaran said the department was still waiting for the forensic report to be completed.
“DOSH is conducting a forensic study about the matter. It’s being done now, but not yet completed. For the interim, we allow them to remove the debris.
“So we are now waiting for two things – the forensic study report as well as plans from the contractor involved about the incident and what has been done,” he added.