“Accident investigations have proven that non-compliance with existing rules and standards under the Labor Code and the Occupational Safety and Health Standards significantly contribute to unfortunate occurrences resulting in threats either to the life or limbs of workers”.
Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said this yesterday as she once again reminded employers and their workers about occupational safety and health.
“I would like our workers and their employers to remember this important reminder this year,” she said.
The labor and employment chief admitted that non-compliance with OSH standards is not declared unlawful under Philippine laws because there is no law that penalizes erring employers, contractors, and subcontractors for non-compliance with OSH standards.
“Thus, work-related accidents and deaths still continue to occur one after the other in many establishments,” she said.
Baldoz hastened to explain that this merits a more concerted effort as well as legislation, to ensure that companies, contractors, and subcontractors comply with OSH standards, and that they are made liable, administratively and criminally, for their inaction and non-compliance. “To address this, we at DOLE adopted a three-pronged approach in ensuring safe and healthy workplaces for all workers,” Baldoz said.
First, in August 2013, the DOLE launched its tripartite-supported Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS) which is a combination of developmental and regulatory approaches to foster a culture of voluntarily compliance with labor laws, including safety and health standards.
In just two years of implementation, 62,693 establishments were found compliant with occupational safety and health standards representing 57.1 percent of the total covered establishments.
In line with its tripartism track, the DOLE wants to involve employers and employees in order for them to gain ownership of the changes in their workplace.
“The DOLE seeks to attribute the responsibility for workers’ safety and protection by involving them in the assessment of compliance activities. The DOLE will conduct capacity-building activities for employers and employees who are part of the assessment process. Presently, e-learning modules are developed that may be accessible for all through the DOLE website. There is so much we can do to capacitate all workers to lessen their chances of committing unsafe acts, remove hazard from workplaces, and re-engineer dangerous work processes into safer procedures,” Baldoz explained.
Second, the DOLE strongly supports a pending legislative measure to strengthen compliance with occupational safety and health standards. Under the present rules and standards, an erring company may be imposed the following penalties for having violated the Labor Code of the Philippines and the Occupational Safety and Health Standards.
a. In cases of imminent danger, the DOLE Regional Director can issue work stoppage order;
b. For unlawful act, there are penal sanctions for erring employers under Article 288 of the Labor Code of the Philippines:
i. Fine of not less than P10,000.00,
ii. Imprisonment of not less than 3 months nor more than 3 years, or
iii. Both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.
The proposed law seeks to strengthen occupational safety and health standards by imposing administrative and criminal penalties in the form of fine and imprisonment. It also makes any employer, contactor and subcontractor primarily and solidarity responsible for compliance of occupational safety and health standards. It further provides for compensation and employment insurance benefits, as well as payment of required penalties, to the State Insurance Fund.
Third, accident investigations are also being conducted. From 2014 to 2015, a total of 161 establishments were covered by accident investigations covering 24,543 workers. The noted occupational safety and health deficiencies affected 10,583 workers.
As a result of said investigations, the DOLE has issued 28 Work Stoppage Orders in the last two years. During work stoppages, employers are mandated to pay workers their wages as if they actually reported for work. From said Work Stoppage Orders, involved employers paid a total of Php431, 635 benefiting 243 workers.
Labor and Employment Secretary Baldoz assured that the “DOLE ensures that all Filipino workers are always safe and healthy in their respective workplaces because, indeed, safety and health is a fundamental right of every worker.”
END/Bureau of Working Conditions