Beef up workplace inspection to check COVID-19 spread, Villanueva urges

Published July 13, 2020, 6:11 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva said on Monday, July 13, that the infection of over 300 workers in a construction site in Taguig City should prompt labor authorities to beef up their workplace inspection program.

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN/MANILA BULLETIN)

The chair of the Senate labor committee expressed alarm over the recent announcement of the Taguig City government that 327 construction workers in Bonifacio Global City tested positive for COVID-19.

“Having 327 workers testing positive at a single workplace should already serve as a wake-up call for DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment). This incident clearly shows how the transmission of the disease can spread to a lot of people if prevention and control measures are lax,” he said in a statement.

“[The] DOLE must continue its labor inspections in workplaces to ensure compliance to occupational safety and health protocols and help control the spread of COVID-19,” he added.

Villanueva likewise reminded employers to comply with the government-issued guidelines on the prevention of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.

Under the guidelines issued by the labor and trade departments last May, employers were mandated to designate safety officers to monitor COVID-19 prevention and control measures, such as physical distancing, wearing of masks, disinfection, among others.

He also noted that Republic Act No. 11058, or the Occupational Health and Safety Law, authorizes safety officers to issue a work stoppage order as soon as it becomes unsafe for workers in the workplace, without fear of reprisal from management.

Villanueva said safety officers at workplaces should not hesitate to recommend a work stoppage when a worker is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, so that the disease would not spread to others.

Meanwhile, he commended the Taguig City government for taking the lead in testing and tracing the contacts of the workers, “but clearly there has to be more efforts coming from the safety personnel of the workplace.”