BANGI: Malaysia currently lacks at least 9,000 safety and health officers (SHOs) and demand is expected to grow with multiple mega projects in the pipeline. Worse, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said more than half of registered SHOs are either inactive or have yet to renew their licenses. "Based on the demand, at least 9,000 SHOs are needed all over the country, but the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Dosh) records show that only 5,984 SHOs had registered and received their licenses as of last year. "To compound the matter, more than half of the SHOs are inactive or have yet to renew their licenses this year," Lee told a press conference at Niosh headquarters here yesterday. He said there are currently 14 million workers in Malaysia and this is expected to increase significantly when mega projects begin construction, furthering the need for SHOs to monitor work sites. Lee said such projects include the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex in Johor, the Pan-Borneo Highway in Sarawak, and the proposed East Coast Rail Line and the Singapore-KL High Speed Rail. "Therefore, we must find ways to encourage more employers to help groom SHOs as they need to get the certificate from a certified training provider, such as Niosh, and obtain at least three years of experience before they could apply for the license from Dosh," he said. Lee said this is all in accordance to the OSH Master Plan by the Human Resources Ministry, which set a target of only 2 work place accident cases per 1,000 workers by 2020, similar to the rate in developed countries. He said Malaysia's rate has been reduced from 4.77 per 1,000 workers in 2006 to a mere 2.81 per 1,000 workers, slowly but surely getting closer to the target above. The Ministry also aims to reduce the rate of fatal industrial accidents from 7.24 per 100,000 workers in 2006 to 2.81 per 100,000 workers in 2020; this has been reduced to 4.84 per 100,000 in 2015. Lee was attending a pre-launch of the Conference and Exhibition of Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), which will be held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) on 18th and 19th Sept.