Some P950,000 in penalties have been imposed by the Labor department on erring companies in the first five months of the year for their failure to meet the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards law, said Senator Joel Villanueva.
The senator said that the penalties should serve as a warning to companies not to take the health and safety of their employees for granted.
“A workplace must always be a safe environment for its workers regardless of the industry,” said Villanueva.
Citing data from the Bureau of Working Conditions, he said 22,774 establishments nationwide were inspected from January to May this year by the Department of Labor and Employment.
Villanueva, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development led the passage of the OSHS law last year, reiterated that the measure calls for the presence of safety officers in workplaces to oversee the overall management of occupational safety and health program.
“The job being done by our safety officers to guarantee protection in our offices and workplace,” he said.
Villanueva said accidents in the workplace can be prevented, if not minimized, as long as risks are identified, and proper safeguard mechanisms are placed to mitigate such risks.”
Aside from being the pointperson for occupational health and safety concerns, safety officers may also issue work stoppage orders if there is imminent danger to the health and safety of employees.
But employees working for companies under a work stoppage order issued due to imminent danger, which occurred as a result of the employer’s violation or fault, must continue to receive their pay until DOLE greenlights its operation after ensuring that safety and health issues are resolved, Villanueva said.
Under the OSHS law, or Republic Act No. 11058 which President Rodrigo Duterte signed in July 2018, the measure covers all workplaces across industries, except the public sector.
The senator also pointed out the need to heighten the awareness of workers when it comes to occupational safety and health, hoping that the culture of safety “gets integrated into our daily lives.”
“In some companies, safety officers have unfairly been tagged as the bad cop, but it’s really their job to look over the shoulder of employees. We have to understand that in terms of occupational safety and health, statistics on incidents involve the lives of people,” Villanueva said.