Senate approves occupational safety bill
The Senate approved on Monday on third and final reading a bill which would mandate stricter compliance by employers to the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS).
Senate Bill No. 1317 or the proposed “Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standard” was approved with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and no abstention.
The bill was authored and sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development.
Villanueva said that by ensuring maximum safety and health at work, the bill would help increase productivity in workplaces, and “businesses will be more successful and sustainable.”
“The passage of this measure is important because the very lives and welfare of our workers are at stake,” Villanueva said in a statement.
Villanueva said the bill amends the 41 year old Labor Code and imposes administrative penalties to employers who will not comply with requirements set under the OSHS.
Under the proposed measure, any erring employer would be served a fine of up to P100,000 “as an administrative penalty for every day of non-correction of violation.”
“This is to reiterate that violation of OSH standards is deliberate disrespect of the well-being of our workers and derogation of the right to humane conditions of work,” Villanueva said.
The proposed measure also guarantees the payment of workers’ wages and income during work stoppage or suspension of operation “due to imminent danger as a result of the employer’s violation or fault.”
Villanueva stressed the need for a proactive approach to help employers, workers, and the government find and fix workplace hazards before workers get hurt.
According to a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) study released in October 2015, occupational diseases in establishments employing 20 or more workers doubled from 85,583 in 2011 to 171, 787 in 2013.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) also reported 199 fatal workplace accidents and 232 non-fatal accidents from January 2014 to October 2016.
Villanueva said that the numbers showed poor compliance of employers with the OSH standards.
“Despite the fact that workplace accidents would always prompt tighter regulations, compliance by all industries continues to be an issue,” he added.
“Let us now make safety and health in the workplace work for all,” Villanueva said. /je