By Ellson Quismorio
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should review its occupational safety protocols and look to impose stiff penalties on employers who violated them.
Sulong Dignidad Party-list president and first nominee Rico Paolo Quicho issued the call in the wake of reports that some establishments did not observe proper evacuation procedures when a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Zamabales, Pampanga, Metro Manila, and neighboring areas last Monday.
Quicho encouraged workers who were not allowed to evacuate their offices to file complaints before DOLE and provide specific information to help the agency to act.
“The safety of our workers should always be our number one concern. Business establishments should be aware of safety protocols in times of emergencies and we need to make sure that stiff fines are given to violating employers,” Quicho, a lawyer, said.
“Sa mga manggagawa naman po na pinagbawalan na lumikas habang lumilindol, maaari po tayo maghain ng reklamo sa DOLE para maaksyunan nila agad ang inyong mga hinaing,” added the House seat aspirant.
(For the workers who were prevented from evacuating while there was an earthquake, you may file a complaint before DOLE so that your grievances may be addressed.)
Quicho cited Republic Act (RA) No. 11058 or An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards which requires employers to respond to possible hazards in the workplace and inform workers of these accordingly.
“Sa ilalim po ng batas na ito, puwedeng tumangging pumasok ang mga manggagawa kung tingin nila ay mapanganib at hindi na ligtas ang kanilang pinagtratrabahuhan. Maaari pong patawan ng multa at karampatang parusa ang mga employers o establisyimento na di susunod sa batas na ito (Under this law, workers can refuse to report for duty if they think that it’s dangerous for them and that the workplace is unsafe. Employers who violate this law may be slapped with fines or the appropriate punishment),” he explained.
According to reports, workers from business process outsourcing firms and malls were among those who were not evacuated during the quake.
Some workers were also made to resume work right after, without waiting for the structural integrity of the buildings to be checked.
The Luzon earthquake claimed the lives of at least 18 people, most of whom were from Pampanga.
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