THE new leadership of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) was prodded by Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva over the weekend to review and “strictly enforce Occupational Safety and Health Standards” (OSHS) and promptly punish violators “to send a clear signal the Duterte government means business.”
Villanueva pressed concerned officials of the DOLE to “look deeper into the enforcement of OSHS and proceed to “penalize those responsible for the death of two people on July 8 after an elevator they were repairing in a building in Makati City collapsed.
The senator stressed that “one accidental but preventable death in the workplace is already far too many,” prodding building regulators to “look deeper” and “verify if the elevator was subjected to technical safety inspection by DOLE inspectors.”
Moreover, Villanueva wants to know “if safety protocol in repairing elevators were observed.”
“We need an immediate investigation on what is the proximate cause of the accident, and let the full force of the law be applied to show how serious we are in providing our workers with a safe and healthy working environment,” he added.
The lawmaker said that under the OSHS Implementing Rules and Regulations, a penalty of P100,000.00 shall be imposed for every day of violations that expose workers to death, serious injury, or serious illness, without prejudice to the filing of any criminal or civil case.
VILLANUEVA conveyed keen interest in the case being the principal author and main sponsor of the Republic Act 11058 (Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof).
Airing an appeal addressed to the new DOLE leadership to “prioritize the compliance of businesses with OSHS as part of the department’s first 100-day plans,” the senator reminded that “we supported increasing the DOLE’s Labor Laws Compliance budget for this year to P599 million and adding more personnel to enforce OSHS.
“The Filipino people need to know how efficiently the law is being implemented for the protection and welfare of our workforce,” Villanueva said.
He noted that before even considering Labor Code amendments or review, “we must first ensure that we have faithfully implemented existing labor laws such as the OSHS Act.”
At the same time, the senator suggested that the new leadership of DOLE should “immediately convene the almost four years overdue” inter-governmental coordination and cooperation mechanism, as prescribed by Section 31 of RA 11058, to monitor the implementation of the law.
He also recalled that based on DOLE’s Labor Inspection Report as of April 30, 2022, only 64.6 percent of the 25,493 establishments inspected have complied with occupational safety and health standards, noting that “most of the violations involve the non-compliance with the requirements of first aiders, safety officers, and fire safety measures.
“The ongoing pandemic is not the only health hazard going around in our workplace,” Villanueva said. “Negligence and non-compliance to occupational safety and health standards are diseases in our businesses that can easily be cured by prevention and due diligence.”