Yesterday’s incident in which a Form 2 student in Gemas died when a blade from a ride-on lawnmower struck her in the head shows that the safety aspect in schools must be improved.
It was a preventable death, if only measures had been taken by those responsible to prioritise the safety of students.
When the lawnmover is at work, the field must be cleared and students should not be there. Or when the students are using the field, the lawnmover should not be used. Although this is a freak accident, it is a bitter lesson to be learned and shows that we must never take our safety for granted.
All workplaces have hazards and risks that need to be addressed and it is the responsibility of those at workplaces, including teachers and students in schools, to identify and take measures to prevent accidents and deaths from occurring.
In the past few years, there have been accidents reported at schools involving both teachers, other staff and students. Some of them were fatal accidents.
In the 10.30am incident on Feb 13, Nur Afini Roslan, a student at SM Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Gemas, died instantly when her head was struck by the blade.
Tampin OCPD Supt Hamazah Razak said two other students were also injured in the incident and they were sent to the Gemas health clinic for treatment.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) hopes that more schools will participate in its Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in School programme.
To date, more than 50 schools have participated in the programme which has been held under a collaboration between the Human Resources Ministry and the Education Ministry since 2015.
The OSH in School programme is a comprehensive campaign, as it considers schools places of work which are subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA 1994).
The objective of OSHA 1994 is to ensure the safety, health and welfare of people at work; to protect those in the workplace; and to provide a conducive working environment in accordance with the workers' psychological and physiological needs.
A safe school does not mean that it is only free from disciplinary problems and other crimes such as bullying, gangsterism and drug abuse – it is also an environment where all the facilities are safe.
Those in schools, especially students, should be exposed to a good safety and health culture so that they understand the concept and embrace it.
We must involve students (in our drive to make schools safe), as they can act as the eyes and ears of the school management when they implement good occupational safety and health (OSH) practices, including practicing the hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control (HIRARC) concept.
If a good OSH system is in place and nurtured among school teachers, staff and students, the children will immediately inform the administration if they see something that could pose a danger to them and others – such as exposed power cables, rusty goalposts, leaked chemicals or workers who do not adhere to safety regulations.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)