Skyway accident: govt accountability, OSH reforms needed — IOHSAD

The recent Skyway accident further exposes the Duterte government’s longstanding disregard for occupational safety and health (OSH). It also highlights the urgent need to conduct OSH investigation and inspection on all workplaces even under the current community quarantine.

The Philippines has had a poor track record in upholding OSH standards, with our compliance rates ranging from 88% at best and 64% at worst [1]. This track record has caused many workplace accidents and deaths and the struggles against these fueled legislation to uphold OSH. These struggles gave birth to what we know now as Republic Act No. 11058 entitled “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” in 2018.

However, the implementation of Department Order 198 titled “Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 11058” did not improve the status of OSH in the country. Our OSH compliance even dropped to 67.50% in 2018 and reached an all-time low at 34.17% this year[2].

Crucial elements of OSH remain overlooked with most enterprises still without first-aiders, the appropriate number of Occupational Health Personnel and facilities, and the mandatory 8-hour annual refresher course for these individuals[2]. Inspection remains a challenge, with only 597 labor inspectors and 34 labor auditors[3] for around 900,00 private establishments nationwide[4]. Non-fatal occupational injuries increased to 20,328 in 2018 from 17,703 in 2015 while deaths from occupational accidents climbed to 469 in 2018 from 156 in 2015[5,6].

It is evident that companies continue to sacrifice worker welfare for the sake of production deadlines and profits without fear of retaliation from the law. Administrative fines are not enough! Our workers deserve better!

In the end, it is the struggle of workers and the public that will force enterprises and the government to uphold OSH and ultimately protect the health and lives of the country’s workers. Let us demand a thorough investigation of workplace accidents, accurate inspection of all workplaces, and criminalization of OSH violators!

A life lost from a preventable event is one death too many. Call for #SafeWorkplacesNow!

[1] Public Hearing on Occupational Safety and Health, Senate, August 2019

[2] Department of Labor and Employment, Bureau of Working Conditions (2020). Labor Inspection Report. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from http://www.bwc.dole.gov.ph/…/Jun2020/Phil_Jun2020.pdf

[3] Department of Labor and Employment (2020). Administrative Order No. 06 Series of 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from https://bwc.dole.gov.ph/…/AO_06_20…

[4] Department of Labor and Employment (2020). Labor inspection of establishments resumes. Retrieved November 23, 2020 from https://www.dole.gov.ph/…/labor-inspection-of…/

[5] Philippine Statistics Authority (2020). 2017/2018 Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment[6] Philippine Statistics Authority. BLES Integrated Survey/Occupational Injuries Survey/Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment

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