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(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Department of Occupational Health and Safety (DOSH) director-general Abu Bakar Che Man admission that at least 30% of construction sites have safety ratings of unsatisfactory or lower is shocking as it puts Malaysians at risk. To ensure that such developers are serious about work safety practices, the penalty provisions should be increased to make them realize that they have a heavy price to pay if they fail to comply.
DAP extends deepest condolences to the family of Dr Liew Boon Horng for their sad loss. Only by increasing the penalties under the Occupational Safety And Health Act (OSH) 1994 against unsafe work practices and amending the unfair provisions in the Civil Law Act would honour the memory of Dr Liew Boon Horng’s tragic accident. Under section 17 of the OSH, there is a general duty by employers to the public that the public are not exposed to risks to their safety or health. Failure to do so shall contravene section 18 and attract a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.
For a company to be fined only RM 50,000 or an imprisonment which is not mandatory of not exceeding 2 years when they have caused loss of life in an accident due to their recklessness or negligence is grossly inadequate. An equivalent example is section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 where any person causing death by reckless of dangerous driving shall be punished with a mandatory imprisonment of not less than 2 years but not more than 10 years and a fine not less than RM 5,000 and not more than RM 20,000/-.
Money fines to replace loss of loss is inadequate compared to imprisonment. As such, employers who cause death due to their negligence should be punished with an imprisonment tenure of not less than 2 years but not more than 10 years just like the Road Transport Act.
Another amendment should be made to section 7 of the 1956 Civil Law Act where the amount of compensation is severely limited. For a person below 55, his maximum liability would be earning income of up to 15 years. For those above 55 years, the family of the deceased can not claim for earnings even though he may be getting RM 100,000 a month can only claim a maximum of RM 10,000 bereavement expenses.
Clearly such compensation is grossly unfair to accident victims and only benefits insurance companies. The time has come to revise and increase the quantum of compensation to an adequate level. Even though nothing can replace lives lost, human lives must have their true worth and not reduced to a meaningless amount. Such amendments to the OSH and the Civil Law Act would give meaning and honour the memory of Liew Boon Horng to ensure that this tragedy is not repeated again.