Malaysia – Key Changes to the Occupational Safety and Health Act

The Minister of Human Resources of Malaysia (“Minister”) has announced that the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 (“Amendment Act”) will come into force on 1 June, 2024. It aims to increase the level of safety and health at workplaces nationwide.

Below we set out key changes made to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (“OSHA”) through the Amendment Act.


Expansion of scope of workplaces

The Amendment Act extends to cover all places of work throughout Malaysia including public services and statutory authorities, with the exception of domestic servants, armed forces and work on board ships governed under, amongst others, the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952. Also, it appears that employees working from home are similarly protected under the Amendment Act, in line with current workplace developments pending clarifications or guidelines with regards to the lack of possession and control over an employee’s home.


Appointment of occupational safety and health coordinator

It is mandatory for an employer to appoint an employee to act as an occupational safety and health coordinator (“OSHC”) if he employs five or more employees at the place of work. This applies for places of work not requiring a safety and health officer (“SHO”). The OSHC’s role is to coordinate occupational safety and health issues at the place of work, which is less extensive than the role of a SHO.

In the event the employer fails to appoint a OSHC or a SHO, as the case may be, the employer shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding of six months or both.


New duties on employers, self-employed persons and/or principals

Duty to conduct and implement risk assessment

It is now a duty on every employer, self-employed person and principal¹ to conduct a risk assessment in relation to the safety and health risks posed to any person who may be affected by his job at the place of work. “Risk assessment” here refers to the process of evaluating the risks to safety and health arising from hazards at work and determining the appropriate measures for risk control.

If the risk assessment indicates that risk control is required to eliminate or reduce the safety and health risk, such control must be implemented by the employer, self-employed person or principal.


Duty to develop and implement procedures to deal with emergencies

Employers, self-employed persons and principals must develop and implement procedures to deal with emergencies that may arise during the employees’ work.


Duty on principal to ensure the safety of contractors and subcontractors

A principal is required to ensure the safety and health of the following persons when at work:

  • Any contractor engaged by the principal;
  • Any subcontractor or indirect subcontractor; and
  • Any employee employed by such contractor or subcontractor

The abovementioned duties are imposed on the principal only where the contractor, subcontractor or employee is working under the direction of the principal as to the manner in which the work is carried out.


Employees’ right to remove themselves from ‘imminent danger’ at the workplace

Employees shall have the right to remove themselves from imminent danger at the place of work or the work if the employer fails to take any action to remove such danger. “Imminent danger” here refers to a serious risk of death or serious body injury to any person that is caused by any plant, substance, condition, activity, process, practice, procedure or place of work hazard.

The employee may exercise this right after he has informed his employer or the employer’s representative that he has reasonable justification to believe there exist an imminent danger at his place of work and the employer fails to take any action to remove the danger.

Employees who remove themselves from such danger are expressly protected from undue consequences and discrimination.


Liabilities of Directors and office bearers

A person who at the time of commission of an offence was (or was acting as) a director, compliance officer, partner, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the company², or was in any manner or to any extent responsible for the management or was assisting in the management of affairs of the company, may now be jointly or severally liable for offences committed by the company.

This is unless if such person proves –

  • that the offence was committed without his knowledge; and
  • without his consent or connivance and he had taken all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.


Increased penalties

Fines that may be imposed for breach of respective duties have been significantly increased from MYR 50,000 to MYR 500,000, with fines range depending on the breach.

Duties include, among others:

  • So far as is practicable, to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and health of all his employees;
  • So far as is practicable, principals to ensure the safety and health of contractors, subcontractors and employees employed by such contractors or subcontractors;
  • Formulate occupational safety and health policy;
  • Conduct a risk assessment in relation to the safety and health risk posed to any person who may be affected by his job at the place of work; and
  • Develop and implement procedures for dealing with emergencies that may arise during the employees’ work.



The amendments to the OSHA are in line with the increasing focus on occupational safety and health globally to ensure sustainability of human resources.

The Minister may now regulate and require the monitoring by employers or occupiers of conditions at a place of work, including the ergonomic, physiological and psychological needs and health of their employees.

In view of additional duties and potential heavy penalties for non-compliance, employers, self-employed persons, principals, manufacturers and other relevant parties should keep themselves informed of any new regulations, guidelines and to take necessary actions to ensure compliance.



¹ “Principal” refers to any person who in the course of or for the purposes of his trade, business, profession or undertaking contracts with a contractor for the execution by or under the contractor of the whole or any part of any work undertaken by the principal.

² The Amendment Act extends the liability of a relevant person committing an offence to a limited liability partnership, firm, society or other body of persons.