The labor department has ensured strict compliance of establishments with the occupational safety and health (OSH) standards as it welcomed the signing of the occupational safety bill, which seeks to penalize violators.
The law entitled, “An Act strengthening compliance with occupational safety and health standards and providing penalties for violations thereof,” seeks to amend the 41-year old Labor Code of the Philippines, which contains no criminal penalties to violators.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III lauded the signing of the bill into law as it will provide full protection for workers against all hazards in their working environment.
“Ensuring the safety of our workers is among our top priorities and we will not tolerate any inaction and non-compliance to the OSH standards as it continues to disrespect the general welfare of workers and cause unfortunate occurrences at work,” Bello said.
The law covers all establishments, projects, sites, including the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) establishments, and workplaces in all branches of economic activity.
Among the key provisions of the new measure are further duties of employers, workers, and other persons who manage, control or supervise the work being undertaken.
These responsibilities include the need to furnish the workers a place of employment free from hazardous conditions; give complete job safety instructions or orientation to all the workers; and inform the workers of the hazards associated with their work.
Other duties of both workers and employers are to use only approved devices and equipment for the workplace, and to comply with OSH standards including the provision of protective and safety devices such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and machine guards.
All safety and health personnel are also required to undergo the mandatory training on basic occupational safety and health for safety officers as prescribed by DOLE.
Also, the law further authorizes the Secretary of Labor and Employment and representatives to enter workplaces to conduct inspections and assessments.
The secretary is also given the authority to order a stoppage of work or suspension of operations of any establishments when non-compliance with the law or implementing rules and regulations poses grave and imminent danger to the health and safety of workers.
Willful failure or refusal of an employer, contractor or subcontractor to comply with the required OSH standards or with the compliance order issued by DOLE will be liable for an administrative fine not exceeding to P100,000 per day until the violation is corrected.
The amount of fine imposed will depend on the frequency or gravity of the violation committed or the damaged it caused. However, maximum amount shall be imposed only when the violation exposes the workers to a risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.
The fine collected will be used for the operation of occupational safety and health initiatives including occupational safety and health training and education, and other occupational safety and health programs.
END/Abegail De Vega