By Leslie Ann Aquino
To determine their compliance with safety standards, the Department of Labor and Employment will be inspecting bunkhouses or buildings offering basic sleeping accommodation for workers particularly in construction areas.
DOLE Regional Director Cyril Ticao said the move was prompted by the incident in Cebu earlier this month at the construction project of JE Abraham C. Lee Construction and Development Incorporated where its bunkhouse collapsed killing five and wounding 55 other workers.
According to Ticao, the incident showed a glaring negligence of safety standards, adding that the structure, as a sleeping quarter, did not pass the prescribed safety requirements.
“The fact that it collapsed sent a clear message that it was never suitable for a sleeping quarter to begin with,,” he said in a statement.
Ticao said labor inspectors would be sent to various construction sites to check not only the safety compliance insofar as the construction project is concerned but also the sleeping quarters provided to the workers.
Based on Department Order No. 13, Series of 1998 or the Guidelines Governing Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Industry employers are to provide workers the following to ensure humane working conditions: (a) Adequate supply of safe drinking water; (b) Adequate sanitary and washing facilities; (c) Suitable living accommodation for workers, and as may be applicable, for their families; and (d) separate sanitary, washing and sleeping facilities for men and women workers.
The DOLE-7 head then underscored the importance of observing suitable living conditions that must be afforded to workers.
Ticao urged the Industry Tripartite Council in Construction (ITC-Construction) to play a major role in advocating for safety and health in the workplace and the provision of safe and suitable living conditions to workers.
“Construction is definitely one of the major industries that the DOLE is eyeing for inspection. I hope they won’t wait anymore to be inspected by us. They should just follow what is in the law,” he said.
Ticao stressed that the promotion of safety and health in the workplace is everyone’s business.
“Let’s be one in this. We have high hopes that our partners not only those in the ITC-Construction but also our counterparts from other Tripartite Industrial Peace Councils and Industry Tripartite Councils will support us all the way in this advocacy,” he said.