To continue economic recovery efforts, the Department of Labor will conduct mandatory occupational health and safety training in workplaces for workers and enterprises for free starting this year.
According to the directive of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Sunday, January 31, the new policy is to enhance workplace health and safety and ease the burden on micro, small and medium businesses amid the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
In issuing the directive to the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), Bello emphasized the need to ensure the health and safety of the workers and employees to boost productivity as the economy reopens gradually.
“We are waiving the training fees being charged to micro and small businesses. The workers in those enterprises have to be assured of their safety and health while at the workplace. This is a big factor to their productivity,” Bello said. “This is also a form of assistance to our MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) being hardest hit by the restrictions due to the pandemic.”
The OSH law or Republic Act 11058 makes it mandatory to designate and train safety officers in all business establishments, which corresponds to the number of employees in enterprises. OSHC fixes a fee of PHP5,500 per trainee for the safety training.
In March 2019, the DOLE required establishments to follow OSH-related guidelines after issuing the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the OSH Law released in January of the same year.
Under the guidelines, DOLE said, “Providing safety seminars and training to workers is an empowering way of building and sustaining a preventative occupational safety and health culture which results in enhanced productivity at workplaces.”
The guidelines also provide that all establishments “are encouraged to immediately conduct mandatory workers’ OSH seminars for all workers/employees at no cost to the workers and attendance at such seminar shall be considered compensable working time.”
The OSH Law states that it is the duty of employers, contractors, and subcontractors to inform their workers about the hazards and risks involved in the occupation entered in and provide appropriate job instruction and orientation regarding OSH.
The OSH Law also states that all workers must attend an eight-hour OSH seminar which should include a joint employer-employee orientation on safety and health standards.
DOLE said it is the responsibility of establishments to determine their risk classification based on the Hazards Identification and Risk Assessment and Control (HIRAC). Levels of classification are low-risk, medium risk, or high risk.
The results of the HIRAC and the number of workers shall be bases for determining the required minimum number of safety officers, OH (occupational health) personnel, medical services and facilities.