Senator Joel Villanueva on Tuesday welcomed the ratification of the reconciled version of the bill strengthening compliance with occupational safety and health standards (OSHS) that seeks to amend the 41-year old Labor Code of the Philippines which, at present, does not declare unlawful violations of OSHS.
“We are certain that our fellow senators who have long supported this cause to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our workers would be very proud of this outcome,” said Villanueva, author of the bill and chairperson of the Senate Committee on Labor.
Under the bill, up to an amount of P100,000 will serve as an administrative penalty for the erring employer for every day of non-correction of violation, counted from the date the employer or contractor is notified of the violation or the date the compliance order is duly served on the employer.
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.
“Isang hakbang na lang po at maisasabatas na ang Occupational Safety and Health Standards Bill. At kapag nalagdaan ito ng ating Pangulo, hindi na pwedeng balewalain ng mga employer, contractor o mga sub-conractor ang OSH Standards. Buhay po ng mga manggagawa ang nakataya sa pagpapabaya,” Villanueva said.
The ratified measure covers all establishments, projects, sites, and workplaces in all branches of economic activity but subject to the appropriate standards of OSH based on number of employees, nature of operations, and the risk or hazard involved, as determined by the Secretary of Labor.
The reconciled bill further provides the duties of employers, workers, and other persons to: a) furnish the workers a place of employment free from hazardous conditions; b) give complete job safety instructions or orientation to all the workers; c) inform the workers of the hazards associated with their work; d) use only approved devices and equipment for the workplace; and e) comply with OSH standards including the provision of protective and safety devices such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and machine guards.
The bill also provides that all safety and health personnel are required to undergo the mandatory training on basic occupational safety and health for safety officers as prescribed by the DOLE.
The measure also provides for the visitorial power of the Secretary of Labor and Employment which authorizes the Secretary and/or representatives to enter workplaces at any time of the day or night where work is being performed to examine records and investigate facts, conditions or matters necessary to determine compliance with the provisions of the measure.
“More should be done to prevent workplace injuries or deaths and ensure that workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility, but in the future, through a clear and effective policies on occupational safety and health standards, we can attain a safe and healthy workplaces for all, a consciousness of safety in our everyday activity,” the senator said.
“This bill will soon become a law with the signature of the President. I consider this a victory for our workers and all those who helped push for a safer workplace,” Villanueva said.