Union upset about increase in work-related deaths

Saturday, July 2, 2011
Issue 1347, Page 3
Word count: 487
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Despite the number of work-related accidents decreased in 2010, the workers union considers that public awareness of occupational safety and health (OSH) still needs considerable improvement in Macau.

According to the statistics from the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL), there were 5,644 victims of work-related accidents in 2010, down 4.5 percent over the preceding year.

However, 12 of them lost their lives, a significant jump from the 7 deaths reported in 2009.

“We’re very concerned about the situation,” Chiang Chong Sek, chairman of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) told the Macau Daily Times.

“Workers should not ignore the importance of occupational safety just because they want to save several seconds or minutes or small trouble at work,” Chiang stressed.

The workers union chief believed that maintaining safety in workplace must have to be done in three ways simultaneously.

“The government needs to reinforce publicity in society, workers need to enhance their awareness and training, and employers also should not overlook protection measures for workers even though they’re rushing to meet the deadline,” he said.,

“These three parties need to work closely in order to enhance workplace safety and avoid accidents,” he added.

Meanwhile, vice-president of FAOM cum lawmaker Kwan Tsui Hang also agrees that it’s necessary to enhance people’s awareness of the importance of OSH.

The number of work-related accidents reported a 4.5 percent drop in 2010, which she said “actually indicated that workers’ awareness was getting strong.

“The problem is more of these accidents happened to be serious and deadly,” she told the MDTimes.

Nevertheless, Kwan pointed out that most of the time workers seldom think that accidents would ever happen to them at work.

She also said the management at construction sites – which is generally believed to be a high risk situation – has the responsibility of maintaining OSH.

“Safety inspectors must require all workers to follow basic safety measures such as wearing safety helmets and harnesses,” she said.

Mechanical testing of construction equipment, she added, is another key for an accident-free work environment.

According to Kwan, the FAOM encourages construction workers to sign up for OSH training courses at DSAL every year. They will be issued an OSH card with a five-year validity period after passing the course.

On the other hand, DSAL has recently launched two promotional programs to offer free first-aid kits and safety footwear respectively to employees with priority given to those from the local small and medium enterprises.

In 2005, the number of work-related deaths soared to 15 from 2 in the previous year. Although the figure plunged to 6 in 2006, it went up again to 14 in 2007 and remained unchanged in 2008, DSAL statistics showed.

The number of victims who lost long-term work capability was reported at 4 in 2010, down significantly from 68 in 2007, 99 in 2008 and 35 in 2009 respectively. However, there were only 7 victims in this category in 2006.

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