Workplace safety group Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) urged the government to immediately act on the alarming number of workplace COVID-19 infections.
Nidec Philippines Corporation, a manufacturing company in Biñan, Laguna was ordered by the Laguna provincial government to temporarily suspend operations on Thursday after 290 of its workers tested positive for the disease.
Over 500 workers from 10 companies in Laguna tested positive with the disease recently, according to IOHSAD.
IOHSAD executive director Nadia de Leon said the government’s inaction on workers’ demands for free mandatory mass testing in the workplace has resulted in “workplace disaster.”
“Its lax policies on COVID-19 prevention and control in workplace were made even worse by the prolonged suspension of labor inspection,” she underscored.
De Leon reiterated that workers’ safety from COVID-19 should be the government’s responsibility and priority: “They should be protected from companies that blatantly violate and safety protocols.”
Citing government data, IOHSAD said Metro Manila, Central Visayas, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), Central Luzon are regions with the highest confirmed COVID-19 cases and also have the highest concentration of workers, amounting to 47 percent of the country’s labor force.
The data, also shared by Senator Joel Villanueva, is “most alarming” said the group, noting that the four regions have companies with the lowest rate of compliance with occupational health and safety standards before the pandemic’s onslaught.
De Leon said government should urgently act on workers’ demands such as workplace inspections; hold accountable companies that do not submit report and do not exercise transparency in reporting suspected, probable, and confirmed cases; free mass testing among workers; create testing centers in areas with high concentrations of workers such as ecozones, factory belts, business centers, and business process outsorcing (BPO) hubs; ensure operational quarantine and isolation centers for workers; and classify COVID-19 as occupational disease.