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Oil palm estates can operate on conditions: CM
Published on: Saturday, April 11, 2020
By: Hayati Dzulkifli
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Oil palm estates can operate on conditions: CM
File photo from Bernama.
Kota Kinabalu: Oil palm plantations and mills in six districts – Tawau, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Semporna, Kunak and Kalabakan – are allowed to operate but with certain conditions that need to be complied.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal  (pic) said operation of the plantations and the mills must subject to the following:

a) Have no positive case of Covid-19.

b) No Person Under Investigation Covid-19 (PUI Covid-19).

c) The oil palm plantations and factory workers do not have close contact with Covid-19 or POV Covid-19 patients.

d) Must adhere to the current Plantations Operations Guideline during the Covid-19 outbreak issued by the Sabah State Department of Health.

If those plantations and mills in operation are found to have Covid-19 positive case; or PUI Covid-19; or close contact with either those with a positive Covid-19 or PUI Covid-19, then the permission to operate will be withdrawn, immediately. Shafie said the State Government would also review the permits in the six districts from time to time.

On Friday, the paper reported that the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had instructed the Health Department and police to conduct ground checks before the state decides whether to allow the oil palm industry to resume its operations during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

On the plantation operation guideline during Covid-19 outbreak, Shafie said it is provided by the Sabah State Health Department to help the oil plantation industry to continue operating during the MCO period.

The main objective is to reduce the risks of spreading the Covid-19 to the workers and to avoid plantation premises to be the source of new infection.

On managing the workforce in the plantations and mills, the operators or owners should follow the guideline as below:

a) The plantation must appoint a Health Coordinator either a dresser assistant or a Health and Safety Officer (Safety Health Officer) to coordinate and strengthen services of the existing Estate Clinic.

b) For estates that do not have an Estate Clinic, the plantation manager should set up a Covid-19 screening centre that meet the standards set by the Ministry of Health Malaysia.

c) Establish appropriate working hours for high risk employees like working from home.

d) Check and verify the Health Declaration Form and history of traveling abroad from employees who just returning from overseas.

e) Employees who just come back from overseas, other districts or from other plantations need to be quarantined for at least 14 days in the area provided by the plantation management.

On the guideline of operating the plantations during the Covid-19 outbreak, he said it is compulsory for the plantations which are operating to abide by the conditions that have been fixed as below:-

a) The number of workers in the plantation must be reduced to a minimum or at least 50 per cent of the current or registered number of workers, during the MCO period.

b) Any movement of individuals and vehicles going in and out of the plantation entrance must be monitored and recorded at the main entrance so as to facilitate management to detect contacts if necessary.

c) The services of the estate clinic or screening centre should provide a body temperature device and to record readings of the body temperature readings on daily basis at the main entry to the plantation or mills.

d) Readings of body temperature for each employee should be recorded for reference purpose. If body temperature is found to exceed 38 degrees Celsius or has symptoms like difficulties in breathing, coughing, colds, and sore throat, the plantation management should notify the health office or the nearest government hospital.

e) Daily reports on the number of workers whom have been screened and referred need to be sent to the nearest health office.

f) The plantation must provide hand sanitisers at the main entrance and related places located within the plantation or premises, and to ensure the use of face masks by every employee.

g) The plantation need to submit a list of employees working during the MCO period and to submit it to a nearby health office and to ensure the movement of those workers are limited around their house and workplaces.

h) Cleaning at workplaces should be carried out at least once a day or more frequently (if there is high usage), especially in public areas such as lobbies, cafeterias, meeting rooms, schools and kindergartens located in the plantation.

i) The management must ensure that the number of passengers inside the workers’ vehicles is limited by taking into account social distancing is practised inside the vehicles.

j) The management should ensure that best practice guidelines on social distancing are in place and implemented especially in the workplace.

k) In the event of an employee being infected with Covid-19 virus, the management is fully responsible to cover the cost of disinfecting premises and other related costs.

The management of the plantation and mill is also responsible to provide conducive working environment and safe to all their employees as stipulated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) 1994 especially during the current Covid-19 outbreak.

The role of the plantations’ management is essential so as to complement efforts to fight the spreading of Covid-19 outbreak.


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