Saturday, August 29, 2020

54 killed by drunk drivers, 611 killed in workplace -Law-breaking employers and workplace owners, not just drunk drivers, who cause deaths needs deterrent laws and punishment.




27 AUGUST 2020



Law-breaking employers and workplace owners, not just drunk drivers, who cause deaths needs deterrent laws and punishment.

54 killed by drunk drivers, 611 killed in workplace accidents in 2018

Malaysian government has recently tabled amendments, vide the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020, in the Parliament to provide for more deterrent sentences for the offence of drunk driving or driving when intoxicated that resulted in death. This Bill has been passed on the 26th of August 2020.

Similar laws with deterrent penalties are needed to reduce or eliminate deaths at workplaces that occurred by reason of breach of laws, especially occupational safety and health obligations by employers, contractors, workplace owners and their officers.

Unlike drunk driving, where the guilty may not have the mental capacity to prove the act was intentional, non-compliance of safety and health requirements are decisions usually made by completely sober employers, contractors, workplace owners and/or their officers. They have the ability to make reasonable decisions with clear minds with the knowledge that their failures in complying with the necessary legal obligations can cause death or injury to workers.

54 Killed By Drunk Drivers In 2018, 578 Killed In Workplace Incidents

Less than 1% of traffic related deaths in Malaysia are linked to alcohol, according to a World Health Organization global road safety report from December 2018. Police reported that in 2018, there were only 54 deaths caused by intoxicated drivers. (FMT, 2/8/2020)

In 2019, according to the Department of Occupational Safety and Health, 578 workers died – at least 2 per day. 144 workers in the construction sector were killed. Malaysia’s Fatal Accident Rate (FAR) in the construction sector was not only 10 times worse than that of the United Kingdom (New Straits Times, 15/2/2020)

From the period of January until March 2020, it is reported that there 16,908 workers that have been killed or disabled by reason of workplace accidents. For the construction sector alone, 39 men and 2 women were killed, whilst 1,183 men and 375 women suffered injuries resulting in disabilities in this same period.

The statistics clearly show that laws relating to workplace safety and health must be a priority considering the high number of deaths and injury at workplace. A majority of them are due to breaches of law, which if complied with will significantly reduce potential death and injury to workers.



 Deterrent Sentences To Keep Workers From Being Killed

In the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994(OSHA 1994), currently the maximum penalty provided for is a fine not exceeding twenty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both. There is no increased penalty in OSHA 1994, if the breach of law results in workers dying, disabled and/or injured. It is the same penalty for non-compliance discovered during normal inspection, and even when non-compliance resulted in workers being killed or injured.

Comparatively, for drunk driving, the current jail sentence for those convicted of driving under the influence to the extent of causing death is between three and 10 years of imprisonment and a fine between RM8,000 and RM20,000, upon conviction. The new amendments seek to increase this to between 10 and 15 years imprisonment, and a fine to between RM50,000 and RM100,000 for first offence, upon conviction.

‘Black-listing’, License/permit Suspensions

Under the new amendments, a person convicted for drunk driving that caused death will also be disqualified  from  holding  or  obtaining  a  driving  license  for  a  period  of  not  less  than  ten  years  from  the date of the conviction and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, be disqualified for a period of  twenty  years  from  the  date  of  the  conviction.

Under the OSHA 1994, there is currently no such ‘blacklisting’, demerit points and/or permit suspensions for workplace owners, contractors and/or employers and their officers even after they are found guilty of breaking laws that resulted in the death to workers.

Therefore, we call on the Malaysian government to also now enact stricter laws with deterrent punishment to save lives of workers, lives lost caused by non-compliance of workplace occupational safety and health laws.

Government must reduce workplace deaths, just as it is trying to reduce deaths caused by drunk drivers.


Apolinar Tolentino                                                  

Regional Representative                           



Nor Azlan Yaacob

BWI-MLC Representative

General Secretary, Timber Employees Union Peninsular Malaysia (TEUPM)


Alias Yaakob

President, Union of Employees in the Construction Industry (UECI)



Building and Wood Worker & International (BWI) is the Global Union Federation, which is recognized by the International Labour Organisation and also Malaysia, as representing workers and unions in Building, Building Materials, Wood, Forestry and Allied sectors. BWI-Malaysian Liaison Council (BWI-MLC) is made up of our Malaysian member Unions, including the Kesatuan Pekerja-Pekerja Dalam Industri Binaan (Union of Employees in the Construction Industry, UECI), being the national union responsible for all workers in the construction industry/sector in Malaysia.



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