27 February 2009
Teach us - that's the appeal of doctors to both the Human Resources Ministry and employers.
Doctors have been blamed for causing workers to lose life-long pensions from Socso because their health problems are not linked to their jobs or the work environment.
Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin admitted that doctors treated patients based on symptoms as it was difficult to link an illness to work.
He said employers were more aware of the health risks in their workplace and should conduct courses for their panel doctors on occupational diseases.
"If a doctor is made aware of this, then he can recognise a possible link between work and disease when a worker comes in for treatment."
Several doctors admitted that early diagnosis of an occupational illness may prevent the disease, such as asthma, from worsening.
Malaysian Society Otorhinolaryngology Head Neck Surgery president Dr Kuljit Singh agreed that doctors should find out details on the workplace whenever a patient sought treatment for hearing problem.
He said hearing loss developed slowly as a result of exposure to continuous or intermittent loud noise at the workplace.
Dr Kuljit said employers should abide by the Factories and Machinery (Noise exposure) Regulations 1989 and not expose workers to noise above the permissible levels.
"Employers should provide ear plugs to those who work in noisy environment."
A Kuala Lumpur Hospital senior consultant, who sits in the Socso board, said occupation-related lung diseases were rarely reported because questions about the workplace were not asked when workers sought treatment.
"The respiratory tract is often the site of injury and diseases due to toxic occupational exposures," he said.
Occupational lung diseases include asthma, pneumoconiosis (due to silicosis, asbestosis), tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, metal lung-induced disease and lung cancer.
This article was first published in www.nst.com.my