Medical Journal of Malaysia

MJM, Vol 70 Supplement 1 September 2015

Highlights in Communicable Disease Prevention in the Workplace.

Rozhan Shariff Mohamed Radzi

Medicine & Occupational Health Dept., ExxonMobil Exploration & Production Malaysia Inc.


The importance of preventing communicable diseases at the workplace cannot be understated. An employer’s legal obligation to protect the safety and health of his employees extends to the sphere of public health. This includes the deterrence and mitigation of infectious disease threats to the extent practicable. The case for action stems from the impact in terms of loss of work days, productivity, incurred medical costs and disruption of business, besides placing vital sites and operations in jeopardy. Prevention applies across all work settings ranging from the basic office environment to remote locations, critical or strategic assets and facilities and also travellers. Key elements are identification and stratification of essential personnel for operational continuity, personnel at risk, developing an Infectious Disease Outbreak Management plan, pre-planned response measures and supplies, clarity of roles and responsibilities of those involved. Other points to consider include work flexibility/virtual meetings for social distancing, Business Continuity Planning (including Pandemic Flu), return to work clearance procedures, travel health resources, vaccinations, blood borne pathogen awareness and food safety practices. Success factors include management support and communication, employee education, cross functional collaboration, alignment with other organisations or business partners and advance identification of prospective healthcare partners and providers.