New Champion on Work Safety and Health Bared

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is well and thriving in Philippine industry and business, said Dr. Dulce P. Estrella-Gust, Executive Director of the DOLE's Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), when announcing the champions of the 4th Gawad Kaligtasan at Kalusugan (GKK) for 2004.

Distileria Bago, Inc. (DBI) emerged as the top institutional winner of the 4th Gawad Kaligstan at Kalusugan (GKK) while Engr. Roberto C. Rubina of First Gas Group of Companies capped the highest award in the GKK individual category.

The GKK was fiercely contested among a large number of entries, including institutions and individuals, from all over the country.

The GKK is a national award given every three years by the DOLE in recognition of the most outstanding achievements by establishments and individuals promoting safety and health of workers, of workplaces and within community. It is the national highlight of the Zero Accident Program (ZAP), the flagship program of DOLE on work safety and health.

The GKK institutional winners have showed exemplary performances in achieving zero accident in the workplace, Dr. Gust said. They have taken the lead with a comprehensive OSH Policy, and specific programs on safety control and emergency preparedness; industrial hygiene program; occupational health program; capacity building on OSH; environmental protection and community relations; and social accountability are in place and working effectively.

A number of companies are joining the roster of the new champions on work safety and health: Amkor Technology Philippines Sta. Rosa and Sucat Plants; Mirant Pagbilao Corporation; Mirant Sual Corporation; First Gas Holdings Corp. in Pasig City; Brown and Root Industrial Services Phils., Inc. (BRISPI); Wyeth Philippines, Inc.; CP Kelco Philippines Inc. in Cebu; and Unilever Philippines Foods Cavite Factory.

In the GKK individual category, Kerwin Lopez of DBI; Edwin Dimacali of Wyeth; Gilbert Rafer of Moog Controls; Tito Lejero of BRISPI; and Ricardo Simpao of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation showed outstanding contributions on work safety and health.

The announcement of winners was the outcome of a rigorous selection process. The winners had to undergo three levels of screening to ensure the validity of their programs on OSH : document screening; followed by on-site validation; and a final presentation of applicants to the Board of Judges composed of representatives from government, employers' and workers' groups, non-government organizations, academe, and professional groups.

The validation process revealed a wide range of unique and best OSH practices introduced by participating companies and individual practitioners, for example:

•  Shop floor workers called “Spice Boys” of a manufacturing firm presented the safety and health program during the on-site validation, instead of the HSE Manager, to stress that their OSH program was “owned” and supported by workers of all ranks and had not been intolerably imposed by management,

•  Deputized Safety Officers was a unique practice in a power plant: all 400 plus employees, including the CEO, were taking turns as safety officers for 1 week each. All had undergone a 3-day specialized training on OSH .

•  Medical surveillance forms a major part of the OH program of a carageenan-manufacturing firm. Under this program, illnesses of employees are being recorded, analyzed, monitored to serve as a basis for tailor-made OH programs .

•  An “Emotional Safety Program” is being implemented in a pharmaceutical firm. This behavior-based safety approach uses family portraits, message, board and overhead signs; it also draws on local and famous artists as OSH endorsers in large-sized posters, placed strategically in the plant premises.

•  A semi-conductor firm has a very strong reproductive health program

•  A petrochemical firm involves its contractors in all its OSH programs. Moreover, its community relations activity include an oil prevention spill awareness program for residents of its nearby communities.

The above examples can only give a fair indication of the innovative OSH initiatives, said Dr. Gust; a full account of the rich achievements of the workers will be given at the Awards Ceremony.

DBI and Mr. Rubina will receive the Labor Secretary's award while the rest are institutional or individual awardees. The formal Awarding Ceremony have been scheduled on September 3, 2004 ; 2:00 pm ; at the OSHC Auditorium in Quezon City .

Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas will lead the guests of honor in the Awarding Ceremony.


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