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Haze in Malaysian affecting employees

Malaysia bosses must help staff cope with haze

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The Malaysian Trades Union Congreess (MTUC) wants employers to provide free masks for staff and increase their efforts to keep employees safe as threats of more haze loom over the country.

MTUC’s vice president A. Balasubramaniam said priority should be given to those who work outdoors – such as plantation and construction workers – who he said are often forced into buying their own masks to try and protect their health while on the job.

He added employers should give “due consideration” to employees who suffer from respiratory ailments, by giving them days off work or proper medical assistance when necessary.

The Malaysian Employers Federation executive director, Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, told The Star it had reminded companies to ensure the workplace air quality was in line with health and safety regulations. He also said many bosses are preparing themselves for workers to fall ill more frequently.

“We expect to receive more medical certificates relating to respiratory illnesses if the haze situation reaches a dangerous level,” he said.

“Employers and their staff should discuss ways to minimise the health risk and cooperate closely so that attendance and productivity can be maintained.”

Last week, the air quality around Kuala Lumpur and on Borneo island was deemed at “unhealthy” levels, with one town reaching “very unhealthy” levels, as forest fires from Indonesia raged on.

Nine measuring stations out of around 50 recorded air pollutant index readings above 100, which signify “unhealthy” air quality, while readings in Sibu town breached 200. A reading of above 300 signifies “hazardous” air.

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