The first law on safety and health in workplaces is being drafted by the Ministry of Labour and will be promulgated in 2013, a senior ministry official said last week.
“The law will aim to prevent air and water pollution and improve safety at worksites, including fire prevention, ensuring construction workers use protective equipment, ensuring the safety of worksite operators and taking precautions for natural disasters,” said U Si Thu Aung, head of the Ministry’s Factories and General Labour Law Inspection Department.
U Si Thu Aung spoke about the draft law during a seminar on occupational health and safety at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Yangon on Saturday, December 15.
“We are considering the safety of all workers in Myanmar’s construction industry. We hope that the law will be obeyed and will ensure the safety of the country’s labourers,” Minister for Labour U Maung Myint said during the seminar.
“According to section 24 of Myanmar’s constitution, the government must provide the means to protect labourers … so we have the task of drafting this new labour law,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Labour, 33 people died in workplace accidents this year.
The Ministry’s department officer for construction, Daw Mya Win, said workers must start obeying regulations and wearing protective equipment to improve safety standards and reduce accidents.
“New construction sites need a drain for waste, a good sanitation system, fire alarms and a safety net for construction workers. These precautions need to be widely understood by workers entering the industry,” she said.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Electric Power’s Electrical Inspection Department, about three electrical workers die a month from accidents, which are most common at garment factories.
“At the construction site, the system for water and power often causes electrical fires. We have to pay more attention to implementing a means of protection, and it must be done under the law,” said U Khin Myint, deputy director of the Electrical Inspection Department.
U Law Zal, a contractor with the Yadana Shwe Htoo Company for 15 years, said: “Most contractors don’t know about safety [precautions] very well. We try to prevent our workers from harm through our own experience working, but we want to know how to prevent harm systematically. The construction site is full of danger, and many workers die falling down elevator shafts or from electrocution.”