Workplace safety fails affects business growth

02 December 2019

Myanmar has been lacking proper sets of rules and laws on occupational Safety and Health Management System.                           

Hluttaw has been discussing the law for over six years and still the law passage has not yet been done.                         

Occupational safety expert commented that poor workplace safety standards and rules impede the potential influx of foreign investment into Myanmar as well as the profit of the business.

This was said at the seminar titled "Occupational Safety and Health Management System for SMEs", at UMFCCI on Saturday.

The expert U Aye Nyein explained more on the link between workplace safety and foreign investment. “We know that’s there but it has not come into effect. This law alone will not work, we need by-law and standards to enforce the law in practice. We don’t have them yet and that’s a bit challenging. So as there is no proper law, we cannot take action when cases happen. So people don’t take this seriously. Recently, three young men in their 20s died while working down in the underground sewage. As we don’t proper set of laws and rules, we cannot take action against the employers and manage compensation for their death.”

Myanmar lacks data in accidents at workplace and other occupational safety data. For instance, accidents are common in mining industry and most of the accidents at mines are left unrecorded.

He commented that the lack of these data and sets of rules impede the foreign investment flooding into the country.

“So as there is no law and rule, there are inconsistencies in practising the workplace safety standard, for example, people who came back from Singapore utilize the rules from Singapore while some Japanese sites use Japan’s practice. Now with no law and rule on that yet, there are inconsistencies.”

Despite the lack of data, he added that the number of accidents at workplace could reach as many as thousands of cases.

“In countries with firm set of law and rules, and record like Singapore, the injuries at workplace are recorded as many as 1,3000 cases, including 66-68 deaths reported. So the number could be higher here in Myanmar. So The way employers here handle the cases is like they pay money to compensate for the death of the employees. But the thing is that they should figure out ways to prevent death and accidents at workplace. We need to find the source that leads to the accidents and how we manage to take action against the employer and the supervisor. And how we set rules and regulations so that same tragic accidents do not happen again.”

There are many forms of workplace hazards, such as physical hazards, Chemical Hazards, Ergonomic hazards, radiation hazards, psychological hazards and biological hazards.

He also explains the benefits that Occupational Safety and Health Management (OSHM) implementation will bring to business.

"If we implement the OSHM, we can reduce the accidents. Then, the cost to pay for the employees who suffer from accidents will be reduced. So it prevents death and reduces cost.

And if the employees are aware of how employer care of their safety, their morale will also improve.

It will also generate the positive public image of the business.

And another one is ...this will improve the business efficiency, subsequently reducing the cost and increasing the profit.

If the workplace safety and workers' health management is properly done, banks and investors will finance more.”

The regulations will apply to both domestic and foreign companies, governmental organizations and joint venture companies.

Arker Kyaw