National Plan on Work Safety and Health Passed
With the crafting of the Medium-Term National Occupational Safety and Health Plan 2005-2010 by the tripartite sector the other day, accidents and illnesses among workers in local and overseas employment is expected to be reduced as there will also be efforts towards an improved enforcement and/or implementation of OSH Standards and programs by appropriate agencies or sectors.
The landmark event happened during the National Consultation Workshop to Develop a Comprehensive and Integrated National Occupational Safety and Health Plan held last November 14-15, 2005 at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City . More than 100 participants representing stakeholders in the private and public sectors and civil society committed to support and implement the vision, goals, and strategies of the Medium-Term National Occupational Safety and Health Plan 2005-2010 signed in a resolution passed at the end of the two-day consultation.
The National OSH Plan harmonizes actions towards an integrated national work safety and health program since all the major stakeholders were part of its formulation, moving work safety and health at the center of programs on workers' welfare and protection. The plan will eventually strengthen the strategies for capacity building on occupational safety and health through a harmonized delivery mechanism.
Among the highlights of the National OSH Plan include improving the delivery of OSH services nationwide to address all clients and beneficiaries; improving the system of establishments' recording and reporting of work-related injuries and illnesses; and addressing the OSH concerns of specific vulnerable population like the informal sector workers and OFWs.
Acting Labor Secretary Manuel G. Imson, in his keynote speech during the opening ceremonies, stressed the need for this plan as based on recent discussions with the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council. He recognized that while the more than 3,000 enterprises in the private formal sector have made commendable progress in complying even beyond the OSH Standards, the poor working conditions in a large number of small and medium enterprises must be addressed.
“ OSH is a particularly suitable entry point for raising mini and microbusiness to higher levels of productivity and profitability. The government must take the lead but it cannot do it alone. The private sector and civil society must join efforts to achieve results. Corporate Social Responsibility should not be limited to the employees of the firm; it would reach a new powerful dimension by reaching out to smaller firms through mentorship and a big-small brother relationship,” Imson said.
For the employers' part, Atty. Miguel B. Varela, Chairman of the Employer's Confederation of the Philippines , said that the passing of the National OSH Plan is a welcome activity for all employers in the midst of debates on the minimum wage law. “I am happy that non-monetary benefits like safety and health be put in the limelight because this is a labor concern that we, as employers, have always put a premium on.” He cited a recent survey on social accountability of ECOP where majority of the respondents rated OSH highest, among all the labor standards that should be undertaken in terms of social accountability.
Ms. Linda Wirth, Director of International Labour Organization Office in Manila , also graced the occasion which also served as her first activity upon assuming her office here. “According to ILO's global estimates, more than two million workers die every year from work accidents and diseases. More than $1.25 trillion, which is equivalent to four percent of the world's gross domestic product, is lost each year due to occupational accidents and diseases,” she said. Wirth cited that in the Philippines , ILO's program in the improvement of working conditions is a priority in line with the National Plan for Decent Work.
Atty. Democrito Mendoza, President of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines , pledged his support to the National OSH Plan. OSHC-DOLE earlier signed with TUCP a Memorandum of Agreement covering joint undertakings on information dissemination, training, and sustainability of programs on work safety and health.
The closing ceremonies, on the other hand, were graced by Labor Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Soriano and Director Maribel D. Ortiz of the International Social Security Association on behalf of ISSA President and SSS Administrator and Corazon de la Paz. Soriano encouraged the presentation of the National OSH Plan to the Social Development Committee for an issuance of an Executive Order so it becomes a government-wide policy. Ortiz, on one hand, said that ISSA shares in the responsibility of preventing work accidents and illnesses while providing an important global platform for the transfer of social security know-how.