Spotlighting occupational safety and health

Safety is a top priority for many organizations that rely on the hard work of employees and contractual workers. The number of untoward incidents in the workplace significantly drops when safety policies and procedures operate effectively with all stakeholders working together to minimize risk.

Such is the experience of South Pacific Inc. (SPI), a Filipino-owned company that prioritizes safety in its energy facilities nationwide. SPI President Iñigo Golingay Jr. said: “Our terminal is equipped with a supervisory control and data acquisition or SCADA system that uses computers, networked data communications, and graphical user interfaces for high-level process management.”

The SCADA system monitors SPI’s terminal processes from the main control room in Batangas at a safe distance away from the tanks, valves, and pipelines. It has the capability to warn assigned personnel of any impending trouble at any given time so that they can proactively react and keep the facilities within safe operating conditions.

According to Golingay, a network of safety valves, gas detectors, emergency shutdown devices, and flame detectors have been installed around the entire facility that will detect abnormal conditions should they develop, as well as automatically shut down those areas in potential danger.

Another energy firm that has a similar system in place is Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s biggest distributor of electricity. In 2015, Meralco inaugurated its new automated control center with the state-of-the-art SCADA system supplied by German firm Siemens AG.

Aside from safety, the health of employees and other stakeholders has become the primary concern of most industries in light of the ongoing pandemic. As the Delta variant of COVID-19 rages across the world, governments and companies are accelerating the vaccination of their constituents.

For instance, the Department of Tourism (DOT) is collaborating with local government units in the inoculation of tourism workers who are classified under the A4 priority category of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF).

Last week, DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat was in Baguio City with NTF Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon for the completion of A4 vaccinations in the nation’s summer capital. She said this “will add another layer of protection for guests and staff on top of continued adherence to health and safety protocols.”

In the case of SPI, 78.5 % of its workforce has already been vaccinated as of August 2021. Its human resources department constantly reminds employees about their jab schedules and what to do if there are any side effects.

Using the company’s acronym as a memory device, the battle cry of SPI employees nowadays is “Sama-sama natin Sugpuin ang Pandemyang Ito!” After all, as public health experts from the Yale University School of Medicine have advised: “Vaccination is the best protection agains the Delta variant.”

J. Albert Gamboa is a Life Member of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX). He is the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly FINEX Digest magazine and the monthly FINEX Focus newsletter. The opinion expressed herein does not necessarily reflect the views of these institutions and the Manila Bulletin.