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Factor in psychosocial risks, bosses urged
Published on: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Psychosocial risks should always be regarded as part of occupational safety and health (OSH) and employers must take it into account when developing their OSH management system, said National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Nisoh) Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Since psychosocial risks had an impact on the safety at workplace, he said there was a need to include total wellness programme in OSH management system.

"Disregard psychosocial aspect at own risk as studies show that it has a significant role in causing accidents," he said after closing the fifth Borneo Occupational Safety and Health Conference and Exhibition (BOSH 2017) here, Tuesday.

He said Niosh had already introduced its Total Wellness and Health Promotion (TWHP) programme in 2003 with the aim to create a sustainable and healthy workforce in the country.

"Our TWHP for example, provides a customised and systematic programme for industry to strengthen Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) prevention including stress mental illness," he said.

There are five categories of health hazards in the workplace – physical, chemical, biological, ergonomics and psychosocial. Stress falls under psychosocial.

Lee said all organisations must also consider work-related stress and psychosocial risks as part of their safety and health strategy to reduce accidents and injuries at the workplace.

This is important since the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2015 shows that about 4.2 million Malaysians aged 16 and over, or 29.2 percent of the population suffer from various mental problems.

He said the number was alarming as it showed an increase of 11.2 per cent compared to 2006.

"Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work would create a healthy work environment, in which workers feel valued and the workplace culture is more positive and consequently, productivity and business performance improves," he said.

Although many factors contribute to workers' mental health and well-being, he said there is increasing evidence that the workplace environment makes a significant contribution.

"In a good psychosocial environment, work can be beneficial for workers' mental health, giving them a greater sense of social inclusion, identity and status, opportunities for development and increased confidence.

"Conversely, a poor psychosocial work environment can have significant negative effects on workers' health," he said.

As workers spend one-third of their day at the office, he said workplace issues are one of the major contributors of depression.

"Employers must be aware that the neglect of mental health and psychosocial factors at the workplace is not only detrimental to the individual worker but also directly affects productivity, efficiency and output of any organisation," he said.

He said employee performance, frequent illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover are all affected by employees' mental health status.

On BOSH 2017, Lee said he was satisfied with active participation of OSH practioners from Sabah and Sarawak.

He also urged them to support the state government and NIOSH effort to promote good OSH practices in various industries especially in the tourism and agriculture sectors and among the small and medium entrepreneurs.

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