MANILA, Philippines — Senator Joel Villanueva on Monday called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to conduct an inspection at a construction site in Taguig City, where over 300 workers reportedly tested positive for the new coronavirus.
“Having 327 workers testing positive at a single workplace should already serve as a wake-up call for DOLE. This incident clearly shows how the transmission of the disease can spread to a lot of people if prevention and control measures are lax,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said in a statement.
“DOLE must continue its labor inspections in workplaces to ensure compliance to occupational safety and health (OSH) protocols and help control the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
Further, the senator reminded employers to adhere to the interim guidelines issued by the DOLE and the Department of Trade and Industry last May on the prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace.
The guidelines mandated safety officers to “monitor COVID-19 prevention and control measures” in the workplace, Villanueva noted.
Safety officers at workplaces, he added, should not hesitate to issue a work stoppage order “as soon as a worker has been conclusively determined to be infected by COVID-19” in order to immediately prevent the spread of the disease among other employees.
“Hindi po dapat magdalawang-isip ang mga safety officers na magpatigil ng trabaho kaagad kapag may kaso ng COVID-19 sa kanilang lugar-paggawa upang maiwasan ang pagkahawa ng iba sa pasyente,” he said.
(Safety officers should not think twice in ordering a work stoppage should an employee test positive for the coronavirus to prevent the spread of the virus.)
“Inatasan po ang mga safety officers na tiyakin ang kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa sa ilalim ng ating batas,” the senator, who authored the Republic Act No. 11058 or the OSH law, added.
(Safety officers are tasked to ensure the welfare of workers under the law.)
Under the said law, safety officers are empowered to issue a work stoppage order as soon as it becomes unsafe for workers in the workplace, without fear of reprisal from management.
On Monday, the Philippines’ COVID-19 tally surpassed 56,000 cases after the Department of Health reported 2,124 new infections nationwide, along with 2,009 patient recoveries and 162 deaths.
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