Rene: scale up occupational safety and health standards

Cong. Rene L. Relampagos (1st District, Bohol) is pushing for a bill that would strengthen compliance with the country’s occupational safety and health (OSH) standards, criminalizing non-compliance and OSH violations to further protect workers against undue occupational and health hazards.

“Time and again, it has been proven that non compliance with OSH laws and regulations often leads to serious accidents, injuries and/or illnesses including fatalities in the workplace due to lack of accountability,” the lawmaker stressed.

House Bill 6397 or “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof” co-authored by Relampagos, enumerates the duties and rights of employers and workers relative to occupational safety and health.

The key provisions of said measure include the institutionalization of a workplace occupational safety and health program and structure. It also provides that compliance with occupational health and safety standards shall be a joint and solidary liability of the employer, project owner, general contractor, contractor, subcontractor and any person who manages, controls or supervises the work being undertaken.

“I cannot overemphasize the importance of this measure amid escalating accidents in our workplaces, some of which have claimed the lives of our workers,” Relampagos said.

The bill mandates for employment insurance for employees who are involuntarily separated from employment due to violations of occupational safety and health standards. It also provides for penalties for unlawful act relative to occupational safety and health standards.

“Any employer or person who commits any of the unlawful acts shall be punished, for every resulting injury, with a fine of not less than P100,000.00 but not more than P250,000.00, or both, at the discretion of the court; Provided, That in consequence of the physical injuries, the person injured shall have become deformed, or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated to perform the work habitually engaged for a period of more than ninety (90) days.”

The fine collected shall be used for the operation of occupational safety and health initiatives including occupational safety and health training and education, and other occupational safety and health programs.

Among the unlawful acts penalized under the proposed measure include Obstruction, delay or refusal to provide labor officers or any person authorized by the Secretary of Labor and employment access to the establishment, project, site or other place where work is being undertaken; Making any statement, report, or representation in relation to adherence to occupational health and safety standards knowing such statement, report or record to be false in any material aspect; Making retaliatory measures such as termination of employment, refusal to pay, reducing wages and benefits or in any manner discriminates against any worker who has given information in relation to letter (c) thereof; Failure to comply with the compliance orders issued by the DoLE Secretary or the authorized representatives based on the findings of violations by labor law compliance officers; Failure to implement OSH standards, including the failure to report accidents in the workplace. (PR)

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