Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the DOLE supports legislative proposals on strengthening compliance with occupational safety and health standards, and urged lawmakers to fast-track pending bills criminalizing non-compliance and OSH violations.
“There are three legislative measures in Congress on occupational safety and health. These are H.B. No. 2226, or An Act Criminalizing Non-Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards; H.B. No. 4594, or An Act Insitutionalizing Occupational Safety and Health of Workers in the Construction Industry; S.B. No. 1368, or An Act to Govern Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Industry, which establishes OSH standards in the construction industry; and H.B. No. 2471, or An Act to Provide for Uniform Warnings on Personal Protective Equipment for Occupational Use. We specifically urge our lawmakers to consider the tripartite-endorsed draft bill of the DOLE entitled, An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupation Safety and Health Standards and already enact this measure into law to strengthen occupational safety and health in our workplaces,” Baldoz said.
“These proposed pieces of legislation on construction occupational health and safety which aimed to institutionalize DOLE’s Department Order No.13 are part of the package of proposals from the Tripartite Labor Code Reform Committee to amend/revise the Labor Code.
Baldoz set up the Committee in 2011 through A.O. 375 to review documents from earlier initiatives, along with development plans, including the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan, 2011-2016.
“Our approach to modernize the Labor Code is to advocate for priority legislation. OSH is one of the priorities. I could not overemphasize its importance—and the timeliness of our plea to our lawmakers—in the light of accidents in our workplaces, some of which have injured and claimed the lives of our workers,” Baldoz explained, obviously referring to the deathly fire accident at Valenzuela City slippers manufacturer Kentex Manufacturing Corporation.
Baldoz said the body of standards, rules, and regulations, known as the Occupational Safety and Health Standards, promulgated in 1978 yet, and amended in 1989, contains no criminal penalties, but decades of changes in the business environment, work processes, and innovations in product and services technologies have also changed our workplaces, particularly with regards occupational safety and health.
She also said many provisions in the OSHS already need to be amended and updated to make it attuned to the times.
Under the Labor Code, the DOLE shall be solely responsible for the administration and enforcement of the OSHS in all places of employment, except as provided for in Rule 1980 of the Standards.
“We urge our lawmakers to seriously see our plea for the enactment of these measures in a positive light, and that is, for the ultimate welfare and protection of our workers and the delivery of labor justice by punishing heartless employers,” Baldoz finally said.