Hold negligent bosses responsible too, unionist tells minister

Under present laws, employers are protected from civil or criminal suits by workers. (AFP pic)

GEORGE TOWN: A unionist today urged the government to look into holding employers responsible for workplace accidents which occur due to negligence, saying present laws allow them to escape prosecution.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress Penang branch secretary K Veeriah said while the government plans to introduce stiffer penalties for those who break workplace safety laws, there has been no mention of how negligent employers will be punished.

In a statement, he said workplace accidents continued to be defined as “employment accidents”, which fall under the Social Security (Socso) Act 1969, with employers protected from civil or criminal suits by workers.

He called on Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran to amend the Socso Act to allow civil and criminal action to be taken against negligent employers, for example by the families of deceased workers.

“Such recourse to the courts, in our view, would put employers on their toes to ensure a safer workplace.

“Stiffer penalties notwithstanding, recourse to the courts would, in our view, impose an obligation on employers to minimise negligence at the workplace.”

Yesterday, Kulasegaran announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 would be amended to increase the present maximum penalty of RM50,000 to RM500,000.

The amendments will allow the government to prosecute the developer, designers/engineers and contractors instead of only the main contractors in worksite incidents at construction sites.