Friday, September 22, 2023
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Building a safer environment

Rizal Faisal

With the aim of promoting awareness and focussing the spotlight on occupational health issues, as well as safety management protocols and legislations, a group of students from Pengiran Anak Puteri Rashidah Sa’adatul Bolkiah Institute of Health Sciences (PAPRSB IHS), Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) conducted a seminar and workshop recently.

The group comprised Abdul, Haziq Idzwan Rudiman, Calista Shauna Shim Chee Yen, Yong Hong Jun, Sheena Wong Xuan Min and Zati Ellyhasya Etqan Farzana Haji Hussin.

Supported and sponsored by various organisations and companies, Building a Safer Environment (BASE) is a student-led community project aiming to highlight common occupational health-related issues in the construction industry and preventative measures against them. These issues include musculoskeletal injuries and chronic pains from heavy lifting and falls from great heights, hearing loss from exposure to loud noises, heatstroke from prolonged exposure to harsh and humid environments, and issues of mental health such as stress and depression.

Initially, the group aimed to conduct a physical seminar last September, targetting supervisors, managers, and stakeholders of construction companies in Brunei Darussalam with the theme, ‘A Healthier & Safer Workplace: Under Construction!’. However, due to the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, the seminar was conducted online.

The seminar aimed to reinforce, educate and raise awareness to Higher Level Construction (HLC) officers on the importance of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and overall physical and mental wellbeing, OHS policies and legislations as well as the importance of body protection and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The students provided the construction workers with educational resources on occupational diseases, mental health, hand hygiene and PPE in the form of leaflets and videos.

BASE assessed the Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) of construction workers on OHS and conducted basic physical and mental health screenings among construction workers.

The many issues associated with OHS pushed BASE to carry out the awareness campaign.

According to BASE, the issues include occupational diseases and injuries responsible for two million deaths per year as a result of poor mental health from occupational stress or high suicide rates, the COVID-19 pandemic linked to high mortality and morbidity, exposure to health and safety hazards which comes inevitably from being on the low in socioeconomic status, poor KAP on OHS, poor implementation of Workplace, Health and Safety (WHS) legislations as well as OHS measures, which is clear in statistics where in Brunei 60 per cent of occupational fatalities are accounted for under the construction industry.

BASE’s first intervention webinar surrounded ‘Body Protection’ to raise awareness on the proper PPE against physical and chemical hazards in the construction industry.

It was followed by ‘A Healthier and Safer Workstyle: Under Construction!’ webinar in their second intervention, which discussed incident investigation, implementation of safety and health practices, WHS legislation and COVID-19 safety guidelines and precautions.

With the support of speakers, BASE also reached out to underline the importance of identifying occupational diseases and its preventions, better mental health in the workplace, health and well-being in the workplace, prevention of accidents, fatalities and safety as well as sustainable health screening.

With support from the agencies involved with BASE, they provided certified knowledge on the issues discussed.

Meanwhile, a third intervention scrutinised the pre-and post-intervention awareness of construction workers by educating them on hygiene, mental health, PPE as well as occupational diseases and their prevention, using multilingual leaflets and posters in Bengali, Malay and English languages.

This was done while distributing COVID-19 essentials including mask filters, disposable masks, reusable masks, hand sanitisers, hand soap, bottled water and ear plugs. They also handed out daily necessities such as food items and canned goods, cooking essentials as well as cleaning essentials.

BASE also carried out a study where they found that there are difficulties in assessing language preferences, level of education and literacy skills.

They recommended for more efforts in recruiting small construction companies in contrast of higher classification companies with relatively established HSE measures.

BASE has called upon the agencies to run future community services and projects venturing into OHS with field and medical experts to be conducted annually with language variety, cover wider range of companies’ recruitments and hold donation drives. BASE also recommended online forums.

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