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Exploring Safety and Health management at fire and rescue department in Kuala Lumpur City

Exploring Safety and Health management at fire and rescue department in Kuala Lumpur City

Exploring Safety and Health management at fire and rescue department in Kuala Lumpur City

  • ASKARI1, A. GHADIMZADEH1, R. SHAMSIPOUR 1, R. BIN, BAKI ) 2

 

1 Faculty of Environmental Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang , Selangor, Malaysia

2 Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Educational studies, University Putra Malaysia

ABSTRACT

According to the statistics, one of the highest rates of claims regarding compensation is in fire and rescue department. Between years 2009-10, from each 1000 workers, Bomba faced with 52.3 important claims. In this statistical study the findings of a research are presented that can usefully interpret the high rates of illness and injuries in fire area. This study aims to give information regarding evidence- based prevention actions in this industry and complete other studies that are done by Bomba in regard to health and safety. This study embraces complete interviews with manager of the fire station and also one employer. Data were collected only from the fire station of the Kuala Lumpur. The gathered information from complete interviews was attached to the provide information through a questionnaire meeting and images and text of their activities in the workplace.

Keywords: fire stations, Bomba, workplace, employer

Corresponding authors: A.ASKARI

BACKGROUND

Bomba is a usual term in Malay language that indicates to the Jabatan Bombadan Penyelamat Malaysia. For the first time in 1883, fire services were began in Malaysia. Some volunteers were employed in Selangor. At the beginning a rescue team was made in 1895 and after that the Malayan Union Fire Services was set up in 1946. On January 1, 1976, a department merged with the Fire Services. After that in 1977 this department changed its name and was called Fire and Rescue Department. And this decision was formally declared on February 21, 1997. Today, Bomba official website includes activities of fire services, news, special units, instructions related to the manner of using candle, gas and electrical safety, fire safety for academic students and rescuing people when a fire starts. [1]

Fire and rescue department of Malaysia was responsible of drafts, managing and applying useful strategies to provide fire-fighting procedures with high quality in order to protect life, property and environment and also to guarantee the high quality of fire and rescue operation in order to reduce hazards and dangers and protect public property according to the law.

INTRODUCTION

 

The OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ACT 1994 section 514 Combining all changes up to 1 January 2006 was the essential frame that was recently supplied to provide the best situation for health, safety and welfare of personnel at work and to save other people against threatening dangers regarding people’s health at work and to set up the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in the related domains. [2]

On 25th February 1994, Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was enacted to assure all staff’s health, security and welfare. This act was stated according to the self regulation rules and responsibilities related to guarantee of staff’s health and safety. With foundation of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health this act provides space for an advisory process at policy making level. Both employers and employees representatives as members of safety and health committee apply safety and health programs because they are expanded in a way that can be used by all of them. Strategic health, safety, and environmental management system (HSE-MS) includes systematic and collective planning in each step of the life cycle of a project that its aim is to guarantee that mutual actions among different members such as workers, customer, contractors, shareholders and host society are in the highest level of health, safety the highest amount of safety, health and environmental standard performances. So, evaluating the HSE-MS performance by a comparative strategic management model for successive improvement processes is essential [3] .

In comparison to other places, fire and rescue department is a place that in which the possibility of plausible hazards is high. The staff should be available in everywhere that in which an incident happens. Incidents can include these items: car accidents, fire in buildings or injuries in industries or any other sites. It just means that this department (Bomba) should be ready for any accident related to fire. It is essential and vital to have sufficient trainings regarding safety and also to perform the operations effectively. Enough safety tools and other emergency equipments should be available in order to avoid danger as much as possible.

Safety Compliance

Safety compliance states that in order to avoid workplace accidents what kind of very important actions should be considered by employees according to career, health and safety needs and requirements [4].

Zin, S.M 2012 believes that safety compliance embraces both good and poor. In considering to safety requirements it is good safety compliance and otherwise it is poor [5].

Safety compliance is considered type of safety management performance with different uses for example how to reply to audits and also report the dangers in order to guarantee its better safety compliance in the future. So, a safety manager should be sure that he is supported and his role is reinforced and his performance is part of safety management system.

Safety Training

Effective training of workers and customers regarding possibility of accidents, the manner of avoiding accidents and also potential risks in the related region is essential. So, education and safety programs play a very important role in increasing safety and they can also enhance awareness in regard to safety [6] . Based on a study that was directed by McDonald in 2003 [7] that was conducted in 18 constructions sites in Ireland if something go wrong , it will impact on employees’ behavior and knowledge , the safety educational plan training is conducted with no planning that in the beginning its aim is to protect themselves and company.

It is clear that most of the employees should be aware of the hazards of their job through the experiences they obtain in their work.

Since most of the employees don’t have enough knowledge, training and skill to distinguish possible risks at work, the major reason of accidents is insufficient safety training [8] . Hopton (1969) believes that training courses for employees and operators will decrease accidents and costs and will prevent their death. [9]

Safety Management System

Management should indicate that they have taken proper actions in order to apply healthy OSH management system such as suitable risk evaluations, reporting systems, safety plan, giving responsibilities clearly, providing enough resources and they also should guarantee that the workers and other people who are exposed to hazards have complete information about them. All estimations should be recorded [10] . These estimations play a very important role in next management actions and it seems that their function is to fulfill legislative needs regarding site activities. Every place has its own different nature of function about safety management system, for example safety plan specific to probable risks and hazards.

Problem Statement

When the risky and dangerous jobs are considered, fire and rescue staff will be almost in the top of the list. In comparison with the other workplaces, fire and rescue department is a very risky and dangerous workplace, when their employers take part in different rescue operations including car accidents, building in fire and injuries in industries. It means that Bomba is responsible of any kind of accidents relating to fire. Fire should be considered seriously because it is permanent part of their job. So, they should have sufficient training to be able to do their job effectively and safely and enough equipment and also stuff should be available in order to be able to stand away from hazards. Some of the rescue workers who were exposed to the polluted air and diesel exhaust and took part in rescue operation encountered lung problems which influenced their health.

These groups have had some serious health problems that need special attentions and serious treatments, because their problems are more serious than before and according to some researchers they lung problems will develop in the future.

Purpose of this study

This study mainly pays attention to different aspects of Health and Safety Management among employers and employees of Bomba. This study was conducted publicly and the main questions were asked at the end of the interview.

Interview Guide

The following areas of investigation were included in the interview guide:

 How the information regarding safety and health can be obtained by employers and managers?

 How the common hazards in a business can be defined by employers and managers?

 What are the most important issues in their workplace?

 What are the criteria of risk control of such safety issues?

 Is it necessary for employers and managers to talk with their workers regarding recognizing risks and determining risk control parameters?

 How health and safety problems are considered in the workplace?

 Does risk management action is considered efficient by employers and managers? Why?

 What are their views about work health and safety?

MATERIALS AND METHODS

In order to gather information, this study applied the qualitative method and a case study as a strategy. The interview was used as a tool to collect workers’ information and opinions on safety problems. According to [11] , the goal of the qualitative study is to determine participants or places that help the investigator to properly perceive the issue and the questions. There are two sets of open questions that one of them is dedicated to employers and the other one to employees. Thus, from 3 participants, one of them is of directors of Bomba and two other persons are employees from Hang Tuah fire station.

Data Collection

The necessary information for this survey was gathered during April-June 2014. The first step included a workplace visit in order to the research team be able to have the first hand information regarding the place and also examine the interview guide by conducting the first interview. The main step was after this step that embraced interviews with employers.

In the final step it was demanded from the interviewees to fill a questionnaire regarding their actions in special moments when they encounter hazards.

This study mainly concentrated on the fire and rescue department in Malaysia and specially Kuala Lumpur. The study was done among employers and employees in the fire stations. The selected persons for the interview were one employer and three participants. In general, this survey considers to different aspects of health and safety management among employers and employees of Bomba at workplace.

Ethical Issues

In this study, the director of fire and rescue departments of Kuala Lumpur allowed these interviewees to take part in this research that is a significance moral action in this study. All the interviewees were aware in regard to purposes of the study, its methods and anticipated consequences of the study after analysis.

RESULT & DISCUSSION

Interviewees believed that the safety problems should be considered with particular attention and management. The opinions of two participants are presented here:

According to one of employees, work health and safety is very important because we need to be assured that we go to our homes at the end of the day because our workplace is very dangerous and is not safe.

One of the employers says “one of the things that terrify me a lot is this issue that I say to my workers’ parents that something has happened to them. I behave them just the way I behave with my own children. They are family and I have been working with them for years.

In spite of the fact that other participants were informed about training programs that the regulator proposes, the interviewees who took part in this program were satisfied with it and mentioned to positive experiences that gained from this study. So that one of employees mentions:

The regulator is helpful because provides training courses and educational meetings especially cases I took part in them on plant safety, psychological effect and premiums and found them very beneficial.

Interviewees had this point of view that work health and safety is about providing safe equipments and establishing secure works measures and actions that the employees should share them. They agreed that the culture in regard to work health and safety started from top and came to down and mangers or owners were responsible of giving priorities regarding health and safety plans. After doing these duties, some of employers believed that they have completed their responsibilities and their duty regarding care.

Overall, this study concentrates on detailed questioning and transcripts from ‘Out-there’ App that these information were analyzed carefully according to the principles of the thematic analysis. Thematic analysis is a procedure to analyze, recognize and report patterns within data. Since data were investigated collectively, relationships among the main themes were visible. In the following parts of the report, the meaning and content of patterns are displayed and explained.

A general survey of interviewees’ policies and perceptions regarding work health and safety are presented in this part. These issues are investigated in this part: the significance of work health and safety, the reasons to guarantee workplace that are safety and health, whether the interviewees have considered themselves as persons to manage health and safety problems efficiently and the factors that impact health and safety in workplace.

Section 1 the main items

 Work health and safety is considered very important by managers in workplace.

 They various motives regarding safety and health embrace these items: the demand for decreased workers repayment premiums , an ethical responsibility towards workers and their family, necessity of decreasing lost production time and company fame.

 According to the participants, guaranteeing health and safety was employers’ duty. Anyway, they believed that with suitable interactions between employers and employees health and safety will be achieved in the best way.

 Majority of the participants think that though their workplace has been very risky , they have used common sense and also their own experiences to reduce the risks of damages and injuries as much as possible and the rest things is their employees’ responsibilities.

 They also believed that diseases and injuries are not always inevitable. So their attitudes are set in two ways: a calculated risk taker or a person who believes in destiny.

 They provided detailed statement about two very important factors that impact on work health and safety that expanded competition and uncertainty which afterwards caused financial pressures.

 Participants believed that in comparison to older machines the new one was safer but changing them is expensive.

Fire and rescue department said that they had enough awareness and knowledge regarding health and safety and in order to manage risk they use their own experiences and knowledge. However, few interviewees mentioned that they paid attention to the changes in standards in order to obtain work safety and health information and also spend time to search websites to obtain information. This separation from work health and safety led to more gaps in work safety and health measures especially in unknown conditions that could cause injuries.

Section 2 main items

 Information on health and safety was searched by employers and managers.

 If a safety problem happened it was possible for them to search the internet, contact a counselor or a supplier.

 Since employers and managers trained many years ago, so their training was not update.

 Many participants were dependent on hiring workers with suitable official permissions and certificates.

 With respect to time and cost of training program, formal health and safety programs were provided for the workers by the participants.

 Sharing knowledge regarding health and safety across the industry was limited and in this section industry unions were not considerable.

 In this industry workplace meetings including safety debates were the most common type of usual communication related to safety.

 Participants had conventional procedures after talking with workers about identifying risks and dangers and risk management.

 Participants didn’t have any awareness regarding the provided information and programs by the work health and safety regulator

CONCLUSION AND PROPOSAL

Policies and comprehensions in regard to work health and safety

In this career and organization, work health and safety is considered as a vital aspect by employers and managers. Ethically they should supply health and safety appliances for their workers and their families. They should also try to decrease workers compensations premiums and to minimize lost production time and maintain fame of company.

According to the participants, guaranteeing health and safety is employers’ responsibilities. Anyway, they also stated that by cooperation of employees safe and health will be achievable in the best way. According to the beliefs of the most of the participants though there were working in a very risky industry but they have done their best and used common sense and their own personal work experiences to reduce the risk of damages and injuries. They believe that the rest of the responsibility is up to the employees. According to them the risks, injuries and disease is not always inevitable.

Participants believe that the main factors that impact the work health and safety in an automatic manner cause financial pressures. The employers’ background and setting was another very important factor. It seems that the employers who had worked for large companies have obtained good knowledge and awareness regarding health and safety because large companies used appropriate health and safety measures in the workplace.

Another factor that impacted the issue of work health and safety was size of the business. Less time and resources was necessary by small businesses in order to dedicate to health and safety.

Some employers say that in order to guarantee safety of workplace, they prefer to hire safe workers who have enough awareness about work health and safety and also suitable certificates and licenses. Participants mentioned that recent changes indicate that finding such ‘safe’ workers is not very easy. The reason in some degree was ascribed to the changes in the training system, because in this system workers had gained theoretical knowledge in classes without any sufficient job skills. The classes were hold by some untrained persons. Among other reasons we can mention to increasing foreign workers, joining mature workers to the industry for the first time because of unemployment, recruiting of experienced trade people by the mining industry.

Work health and safety knowledge

Among participants just few of them were searching new information about health and safety to expand their knowledge. Instead of searching information by themselves, they only depended on the obtained changes and updates from emails and inspector visits. Knowledge of the most participants was not sufficient in regard to the prepared materials and programs by the work safety and health officials in their related areas. When a problem was happening in the health and safety area, they were obliged to search the internet or contact a supplier or an advisor.

Because of the least interactions of the personnel, the knowledge regarding health and safety was not distributed sufficiently. The role of the industry unions was not considerable in this industry and just a few team work or employer groups enrolled and have an effect.

Since these findings are gathered from a qualitative study so we are not able to generalize them or completely be able to be dependent on them. In some studies because of lack of evidence, more studies in order to determine amount of issues all over the workplace is essential.

Findings of this study indicate that improving work safety and health is not easy and from different aspects requires a particular approach. In order to apply safety and health management system in this section an efficient strategy is needed that subsequently it can increase awareness and cooperation.

Participants’ proposals to improve workplace safety

The following proposals were suggested by the people who took part in this study that are useful to improve work health and safety:

 The regulator should apply a more responsive approach.

 Identification and warning systems are necessary.

 Repayment or training support for those who take part in training.

 Highly skilled inspectors with sufficient job experiences are required.

 Training and machine recorder are important.

 Setting up an online meeting in order to share health and safety information, recording of certificates and skills.

 Supplying the required information in simple words.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to the Fire and rescue department in Malaysia & Department of Environmental studies ,UPM

REFRENCES

[1] Fire Service Features of Buildings and Fire Protection Systems Occupational Safety and Health Administration U.S. Department of Labor OSHA 3256-07N 2006.

[2] Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). (1994). Department of Occupational Safety and Health Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia (2006); http://dosh.mohr.gov.my/

[3] 1.Abbaspour, M.(2012). A strategic management model for evaluation of health, safety and environmental performance. Environ Monit Assess184:2981–2991

[4] 11.Mahmood, R., Mohd Isa, M.F., Mustafa, M., Abdul Aziz, F.S., Salleh, A. (2010). Safety Behaviour:The Role of Safety Commitment

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[6] Ghani, M.K., Abdul Hamid, Z., Mohd Zain, M.Z., Abdul Rahim, A.H., Mohamad Kamar, K.A., Abdul Rahman, M.A. (2010). Safety in Malaysian Construction: The Challenges and Initiatives. Contruction Research Institute Malaysia (CREAM), CIDB Malaysia.

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[9] Hopton, J.G. (1969). Accident Prevention in the Construction Industry, Proceedings of the Conference Safety on Construction Sites– Discussion, 12-13 March (1969), The Institution of Civil Engineers, London.

[10] Muhammad, I. (2006). Revamping OSH Enforcement in Construction Industry – Singapore Experience. Proceeding of the 9th Conference and Exhibition of National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Malaysia, 81-113

[11] Creswell, J.W., 2007-2009. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. Choosing Among Five Approaches. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publication, Inc.