Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education
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Brunei has a total worker population of 173,501, with private sector accounting for 127,410; the remaining 46,091 workers
are being employed in the government sector. The majority (68.7%) of private sector employees are foreign workers .A
greater number of workers (28%) is employed in the construction industry, where as 4% of workers are employed in the oil
and gas sectors. Currently, there are three (3) government agencies involved in occupational safety and health at workplace in
the country; i.e. Occupational Health Division(OHD) of the Department of Health Services of Ministry of Health, Workplace
Safety and Health Division of Department of Labour and Safety Unit of the Public Works Department. The Occupational Health
Division of the Department of Health Services was established in 1993 as a unit and was upgraded to a division in 2004. The
vision of the division is to �Promote a safe and healthy working environment and ensure that the workforce in Brunei is healthy
and productive� . Currently, the division comprises of 22 staff members; i.e. 8 Occupational Health Physicians, 5 Occupational
Health Nurses,4 Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors and 5 supportive staff members. The main functions of the division
are; surveillance of worker�s health , occupational health clinical service, surveillance of working environment, investigation of
complaints and workplace accidents & work-related diseases, health education and health promotion, training, collaboration
with other agencies and conducting research and studies on occupational health and safety.
Surveillance of workers� health �Pre-employment medical examinations are mandatory in Brunei, under the Employment
Order 2009(previously Labour Laws of Brunei).All prospective workers are required to undergo pre-employment health
screening in order to determine whether they are fit to perform duty in particular working environment .This creates an
opportunity for the employee to know more about hazards at workplace, preventive measures, usage of PPE etc., which in
the long run improves health and safety at workplace. Surveillance of working environment is equally important as medical
surveillance for the prevention of occupational and work related diseases. As such OHD gives greater emphasis on workplace
surveillance activities and conducts workplace OSH audits, inspections and risk assessments in both government and private
sector establishments on regular basis. OSH inspectorate team of the division comprises of an Occupational Health Physician,
an Occupational Health Nurse and OSH Inspectors. These inspectorate activities are mainly carried out on advisory capacity.
Following the inspection important issues are immediately brought to the attention of management and advised accordingly. In
addition detailed reports are sent the employers and other relevant agencies (eg. Dept. of Labour),giving them recommendations
with regards to occupational health and safety at the workplace .Follow up visits are conducted at workplaces that have been
assessed to have poor health and safety conditions. This team approach contributes significantly, to improve occupational safety
and health at workplace due to many reasons.
The division conducts investigation of workplace complaints, accidents and work-related diseases.
Accidents and work-related diseases are reported to the division by attending medical practitioners using reporting forms
designed by the division.
Nayake Balalla is a Senior Medical Officer, Occupational Health Division, Ministry of Health. Brunei-Darussalam.
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