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Stop work if haze-related hazard cannot be mitigated - NIOSH

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 11): Employers are advised to implement appropriate measures and conduct a proper risk assessment on the haze that is affecting the country, including specifying when to stop work at construction sites to ensure associated risks are being minimised or mitigated. 

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said during the haze employees will be exposed to higher levels of occupational safety and health (OSH) risks due to poor visibility and or ill effects of haze.

"The prolonged haze occurring can cause reductions in output in construction activities. Mitigating factors must be considered to control that situation.

"If the OSH risks cannot be mitigated, such activities should stop," Lee told Bernama.

In definition, haze is a phenomenon that occurs when a sufficient concentration of aerosols in the atmosphere scatter visible light and this results in a measurable reduction in visual range.

Haze in Malaysia is not a new phenomenon as it was first recorded in 1982 when regional haze from biomass burning disrupted daily life in the country.

Lee noted that since then, several haze episodes had been recorded with severe situations occurring in 1997, 2005 and 2015.

Human health effects during haze episodes have been recorded based on increased hospital admissions, usually related to respiratory health problems during this time, he said.

"For example such as the case in 1997, the number of respiratory disease outpatient visits at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital increased from 250 to 800 people per day during that episode," Lee said citing a report from World Health Organisation.

For those working at the construction sites and exposed to open environment, he advised that work should only resume when precautions have been taken to reduce the risks.

In conducting of risk assessment, Lee also said employers could refer to Guidelines on Hazard Identification Risk Assessment and Risk Control (HIRARC) published by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).

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