Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 : Key Changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994

Written by Darren Lai and Jasmin Nga

Introduction

Occupational safety and health are fundamental rights in any modern society. Every individual has the right to work in an environment free from hazards that could jeopardise their well-being. Hence, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 in Malaysia plays a pivotal role in ensuring workplace safety and health, profoundly impacting both employers and employees alike.

This article aims to list out the key changes made to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (“the Act”) through the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 (“the Amendment Act”) that will soon take effect by this year. Employers and employees both have a legal obligation to comply with these laws and amendments to avoid fines, penalties, and other legal liabilities. 

The amendments and additions to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 are as follows.

Key Changes
Increased Penalties for Employers and Principal

Section 49 — Penalty for failure to comply with notice

  • The amount of penalty imposed on employers and principals on conviction for failure to comply with notice is increased from RM50,000 to RM500,000. 
  • The imprisonment term is reduced from a term not exceeding 5 years to not exceeding 2 years.
  • Further fine for each day during which the offence continues is increased from RM500 to RM2,000. 

Higher penalties serve as a deterrent to employers who may be inclined to disregard safety regulations that are stipulated in the act. The threat of substantial fines or other punitive measures encourages employers to prioritise workplace safety and invest in measures to prevent accidents and injuries.

Expansion of scope and applicability of workplaces

The scope and applicability of workplaces prior to the amendment only applies to industries in the First Schedule such as:-

  1. Manufacturing
  2. Mining and Quarrying
  3. Construction
  4. Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  5. Utilities:

(a) Electricity;

(b) Gas;

(c) Water; and

(d) Sanitary Services

  1. Transport, Storage and Communication
  2. Wholesale and Retail Trades
  3. Hotels and Restaurants
  4. Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services
  5. Public Services and Statutory Authorities

It has been amended to include all places of work throughout Malaysia including in the public services and statutory authorities. This measure promotes a culture of safety and encourages employers in public services and statutory authorities to prioritise workplace safety measures.

Increase in protection for employees

Section 26A

A new provision has been added to enhance protection for employees. Under this provision, if an employee informs their employer or representative that they have reasonable grounds to believe there is an imminent danger at their workplace, the employee has the right to remove themselves from the danger or their work if the employer does not take any action to address the danger.

Additional duties on principles/employers towards employees

The recent amendment act expands the duties for principals, emphasising their responsibility to prioritise safety and health within their purview. 

Section 18A of the OSHA 2022

(i) Principals are now mandated to take practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of all involved parties. 

Section 18B of the OSHA 2022

(ii) The act imposes an obligation on individuals to conduct and implement risk assessments, enhancing accountability for any omissions, liabilities, or defaults. 

Section 44 of the OSHA 2022

(iii) These amendments underscore a heightened focus on proactive risk management and the importance of addressing potential hazards to safeguard the well-being of all stakeholders.

Appointment of occupational safety and health coordinator

Section 29A of the OSHA 2022

An additional clause was inserted to make it mandatory for an employer to appoint an employee to act as an occupational safety and health coordinator if he employs five or more employees at his place of work.

Attendance for occupational safety and health training course

Section 30 of the OSHA 2022 

(New section added after Section 31)

Section 31a 

An added clause permits ministers to mandate specific groups of individuals to participate in an occupational safety and health training course, as outlined in the order, which must be administered by a registered training provider deemed competent.

Insertion of new fourth and fifth schedule

The fourth schedule delineates various types of bodily injuries to provide a clear illustration of what constitutes serious bodily injury.

The fifth schedule outlines a comprehensive list of activities that must be undertaken by both competent persons and registered training providers in order to fulfil their obligations effectively.

Conclusion 

In summary, the  changes are made keeping in mind the hazards, incidents, and injuries faced by employees, especially those in the heavy industries. By introducing these amendments, the aim is to create a safer working environment, enabling workers to carry out their responsibilities with reduced risks. Employers are encouraged to take note of the imminent changes and not take occupational safety issues lightly. 

The full Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 can be accessed here and a summary of the amendments is accessible here. If you have any query to the above, please feel free to contact us and/or our Mr Darren Lai at justright@richardweechambers.com.

Published on 14 March 2024

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