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Justice for all victims of workplace deaths! President Duterte urged to certify OSH Bill as urgent

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Workplace safety organization Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) challenged the government to put an end to workplace tragedies in the country.

“These senseless workplace deaths have to stop. In a span of almost three years, more than a hundred workers have died due to fires caused by employers’ non-compliance with fire safety and occupational health and safety laws,” said Nadia De Leon, IOHSAD advocacy officer.

In 2015, a huge fire killed more than 72 workers of Kentex Manufacturing Inc., a slippers factory in Valenzuela. Last February, the fire in the House Technology Industries (HTI) inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone left many workers injured and still many others unaccounted for. Last December 23, another fire tragedy claimed the lives of 37 call center employees of Survey Sampling International when they were trapped inside the burning NCCC Mall in Davao City.

Labor Department Secretary Bello has ordered the regional office to conduct an investigation to find out if there were violations committed by the NCCC Mall management especially on occupational safety and health standards. Survivors' testimonials shared in their social media accounts point to possible violations of fire safety and OSH laws.

“We demand the immediate release of the investigation results and the government’s resolute action. Investigations become useless when no one is held accountable and safety laws remain weak,” added De Leon.

IOHSAD also called on Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel to prioritize Senate Bill 1317, Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards Act or the OSH Bill when sessions start next year. The OSH Bill will legislate the Department of Labor’s mandatory inspection of all establishments and disallow any form of employer-discretion based compliance with OSH laws. The bill will also impose stiffer penalties and imprisonment to companies who violate OSH standards.

IOHSAD said that workplace fires can be prevented through regular and strict inspection of compliance with OSH standards by business establishments, particularly those which are considered hazardous and fire-prone. It said that the government should conduct mandatory inspection of all workplaces regardless of size and kind of operation.

“We demand justice for all the victims of workplace tragedies and call on President Duterte to certify the OSH Bill as urgent and ensure its immediate passage into law,” ended De Leon. ###