Issue of September 16, 2018
     
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Compliance with occupational safety and health standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSH) Law, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Aug. 17 assures stronger protection of Filipino workers’ rights in workplaces.

Republic Act 11058 or “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations” mandates employers to implement safety standards in the workplace. Under the new law, workers are encouraged to report violations of employers especially threats of dismissal and non-payment of salary.

Such privilege is among the highlights of the new measure especially if the health safety and security of the worker is at risk.

Under Section 23 of the OSH Law, a worker is entitled to receive his salary in the event of company closure due to violations. If stoppage of work due to imminent danger occurs as a result of the employer’s violation or fault, the employer shall pay the workers concerned their wages during the period of such stoppage of work or suspension of operations.

For purpose of payment of wages and any other liabilities arising from the work stoppage order, the employer is presumed a party at fault if work stoppage order is issued secondary to imminent danger, which would imperil the lives of the workers. A worker may also file a petition to claim compensation benefits in case of death or injury during working hours.

The law also emphasizes the maximum amount of P100, 000 daily as an administrative penalty for the erring employer for non-correction of violation. The amount of fine imposed shall depend on the frequency or gravity of the violation committed or the damage caused, provided, however, that the maximum amount shall be imposed only when the violation exposes the workers to a risk of death, serious injury or serious illness.

The law covers all establishments, projects, sites, Philippine Economic Zone Authority establishments, and workplaces in all branches of economic activity.

Among the key provisions of the new measure are 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 and machine guards.

All safety and health personnel are also required to undergo training on basic occupational safety and health for safety officers as prescribed by the Department of Labor and Employment. The law further authorizes the Secretary of DOLE and representatives to conduct inspections and assessments in the workplace.

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. Refusal of an employer, contractor or subcontractor to comply with the 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, the 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.

Investigations in these accidents have proven that non-compliance significantly contribute to unfortunate occurrences resulting in threats either to the life or limbs of workers.

OSH also commonly referred to as “workplace health and safety” is an area concerned with the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goals of occupational safety and health program are to foster a safe and healthy work environment. OSH may also protect co-workers, family members, employers, customers, and many others who might be affected by the workplace environment.

All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are controlled. Employers have the primary responsibility to see to it that health and safety standards are followed.

Workers have a duty to take care of their own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by their actions at work. Workers must co-operate with employers and co-workers to help them meet the requirements of the law.

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