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Niosh: Journalists covering Sg Kim Kim disaster should wear proper protection

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) today urged media practitioners covering the chemical pollution crisis at Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang to be properly protected.

Its chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, said media practitioners should never compromise when it comes to their personal safety.

This came after several journalists covering the disaster experienced the ‘Kim Kim symptom’, with varying levels of severity.

“These media practitioners need to be on the ground, as it is their responsibility to cover such an event. However, they must be adequately equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE).

“When media practitioners are asked to cover cases involving toxic fumes, they must speak to their management to be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment. This relates to what they need to wear to protect themselves.

“It is their right to speak to their management to ensure that their management will be able to provide them with PPE.

“We do not want to see them falling sick while on duty due to not being adequately protected. They can be the victims or part of the numbers affected,” Lee said when contacted today.

At the same time, media organisations must ensure that those sent to such scenes are properly protected.

“It is the responsibility of media organisations to ensure their staff are properly protected.

“You cannot expect the reporters to go and buy proper PPE and it is not fair for them to do so.

“The management must provide those covering the scene with proper PPE, to ensure they will be protected while carrying out their task and return safely.”

Lee said journalists must be equipped with the right type of PPE, in accordance with the level of exposure.

“For example, if they go to Sungai Kim Kim, where the source of the problem started with the highest level of exposure, they must be told what type of PPE they should wear.

“The type of mask that one wears during haze is different from the one that needs to be worn in the Sungai Kim Kim case.”

He said for those who need to be at Sungai Kim Kim, a half face mask with multigas cartridge is needed, while for those covering outside the area, a N95 face mask is highly recommended.

Yesterday, Harian Metro journalist Mary Victoria Dass became the latest to come down with ‘Kim Kim symptom’.

She received outpatient treatment for bleeding from the nose, sore throat, nausea and dizziness while covering an event at Menara Aqabah in the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council.

Previously, Astro Awani journalist Ernalisa Othman and Johor TV3 bureau chief Zahir Senapiah were also treated for similar symptoms.

Read More: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/03/469853/niosh-journalists-covering-sg-kim-kim-disaster-should-wear-proper