Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ideal place for special workers

NST, 08 Jul 2006

PEKAN: Visitors to the Vacuumschmelze (M) Sdn Bhd (VAC) factory here may notice something odd about the place.

Its management seems to have a penchant for red lamps, which can be found at various locations.

Even the restrooms are not spared, with several round red lamps facing the cubicles.

The red lamps, however, have nothing to do with interior decoration. They have a life-saving purpose.

They actually act as fire alarms for the electronic factory’s 13 hearing and speech-impaired machine operators.

"They will know that there is an emergency if the red lamps flash continuously," said VAC human resources executive Fadzilah Awang Ibrahim.

The German company, which has been operating in Tanah Putih near here since 1995, has been employing disabled workers among its 700 employees for the past few years.

Most of them are recruited with the help of the Social Welfare Department and Human Resources Ministry.

Fadzilah said the company, which produces electronic switchboards and other components, believed that the disabled could be train like other workers if some adjustments were made to the training process.

For example, disabled workers at the factory were trained using sign language and manuals with lots of diagrams.

"The Social Welfare Department also sends its staff to help us. Some of our supervisors also learn basic sign language," said Fadzilah.

Supervisor Juraina Abd Rani said she had no problems handling the three disabled workers assigned to her.

"They are very focused when doing their jobs," said the 32-year-old mother from Maran.

One of her "special" operators is Rozaliza Abd Rahim who was happy to be treated well at the factory. "There’s no discrimination here and all my friends are very helpful," said the 23-year-old from Jerantut in sign language.

Disabled couple Mohd Mirzan Toriman and wife Suzilawani Abdul Wahab, both 22, said other companies should also offer similar opportunities to those with disabilities. Mirzan and Suzilawani had previously found it difficult to secure employment despite possessing a diploma in architecture and office management respectively.

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