Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz assured the public yesterday that the Department of Labor and Employment, together with other government agencies and its social partners, is stepping up coordination and enforcement efforts to ensure workplace safety and to prevent the occurrence of an accident similar to the Kentex fire in Valenzuela City.
“I would like to assure the public that the DOLE is working doubly hard to prevent another Kentex,” said Baldoz, referring to the deadly fire at the rubber footwear manufacturing facility of Kentex Manufacturing Corporation that claimed the lives of 72 workers.
Baldoz said this after she issued a directive to all DOLE regional directors last week detailing intensified steps in the assessment of the fire safety compliance of all business establishments, as instructed by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
In her directive, Memorandum No. 0615-26 and dated 22 June 2015, Baldoz said the DOLE and the Department of Local Government, through the Bureau of Fire Protection, have agreed to step up coordination and enforcement of the fire safety and protection requirement in all workplaces.
“I have issued Memorandum No. 0615-26 to all our Regional Directors to take the lead in ensuring that business establishments rigorously comply with our reinforced assessment of fire safety compliance of establishments,” she said.
Accordingly, Baldoz directed all DOLE regional directors, in the course of OSH assessment and compliance, to verify the validity and authenticity of the Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) of all business establishments that have obtained the same, and to recognize it, the FSIC being the central reference in determining compliance with fire safety and protection under the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) component of the Labor Laws Compliance System (LLCS) checklist.
“You have to take note of the date of issuance of the FSIC, the issuing officer, and expiration date, and secure a copy,” explained Baldoz.
For establishment with no valid BFP-issued FSIC, Baldoz directed the regional directors to ensure that the Labor Laws Compliance Officer (LLCO) shall make an assessment of the establishment’s compliance with basic fire requirements, as specified under Rule 1940 of the OSHS, particularly on fire hose, emergency exits, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, and alarm systems, conduct of fire-fighting and exit drills, and appropriate size of stairways and fire doors.
“Findings of compliance or deficiencies by the LLCO on fire safety and protection requirements shall be referred and endorsed to the proper Local Government Unit and the Regional BFP for appropriate action, copy furnished to the BFP Central Office,” Baldoz further directed.
The labor and employment chief said fire safety and protection compliance shall not be deemed satisfied without a valid BFP-issued FSIC.
“The DOLE Regional Office assessment and compliance shall not be deemed satisfied without a valid FSIC and it shall withhold issuance of COC on OSH standards until the issuance of a valid FSIC,” she said.
“We need to coordinate closely with the DILG, BFP, and the LGUs if we are to prevent another Kentex. With close coordination, effective monitoring and evaluation of safety compliance in the workplace and greater involvement and accountability of government agencies, including the local government units, will be achieved and the incalculable loss of lives and properties will be prevented,” she said.