• What does safety and health in the workplace mean?
Safety refers to the physical or environmental conditions of work which comply with prescribed Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards and which allow the workers to perform the job without or within acceptable exposure limit to hazards. Occupational safety also refers to practices related to production and work process.
Health means a sound state of the body and mind of the workers that enables the worker or employee to perform the job normally.
• What does OSH Standards mean?
OSH Standards are mandatory rules and standards set and enforced to eliminate or reduce occupational safety and health hazards in the workplace.
• What is the purpose of OSH Standards?
OSH Standards aim to provide at least the minimum acceptable degree of protection that must be afforded to every worker in relation to the working conditions and dangers of injury, sickness or death that may arise by reason of the worker's occupation. The provision of OSH Standards by the State is an exercise of police power, with the intention of promoting the welfare and well-being of the workers.
• What are covered by the General OSH Standards?
All establishments, workplaces and other undertakings are covered, including agricultural enterprises whether operating for profit or not, except:
Residential places exclusively devoted to dwelling purposes.
• What does right to safe and healthful conditions of work mean?
It means that the worker shall be assured of effective protection against the danger of injury, sickness or death through safe and healthful working conditions.
• What is the minimum standard on safety and health in the workplace?
The OSH Standards provide that every company shall keep and maintain its workplace free from work hazards that are likely to cause physical harm to the workers or damage to property. Thus, the worker is entitled to be provided by the employer with:
- Appropriate seats, lighting and ventilation;
- Adequate passageways, exits and fire fighting equipment;
- Separate facilities for men and women;
- Appropriate safety devices like protective gears, masks, helmets, safety boots, coats or first-aid kits;
- Medicines, medical supplies or first-aid kits;
- Free medical and dental services and facilities.
• What other safety requirements should employers provide their employees?
Employers must provide their employees with the following instruments and/or working stations:
- Appropriate protective equipment and clothing such as overall head coverings, goggles, gloves aprons and respirators;
- A properly designed exhaust system and waste disposal, local exhaust or general ventilation to keep toxic fumes or gases, away from workers' breathing zone;
- Adequate number of fire extinguishers in the workplace;
- Designated safe smoking and welding areas far from combustible, flammable or explosive materials, containers filled with explosives or flammable substances, and containers that have held explosives or flammable materials;
• What safety measures must be observed within the premises of establishments
Establishments must observe the following safety measures:
- Building premises shall have adequate fire, emergency or danger signs and safety instructions of standard colors and sizes visible at all times;
- Other visible signs that may be needed to direct the driver of motorized vehicle such as STOP, YIELD, and DO NOT ENTER, properly positioned within the compound of the establishment shall be used to increase safety especially during the night;
- Handicapped employees shall be restricted only to designated workplaces. As far as practicable and feasible they shall be provided with facilities for safe and convenient movement within the establishment;
- Good housekeeping shall be maintained at all times through cleanliness of building, yards, machines, equipment, regular waste disposal, and orderly arrangement of process operations, storage and filing materials;
- Adequate dressing rooms, locker rooms, comfort rooms and lavatories separate for male and female workers shall be provided.
• Who enforces OSH Standards?
The Secretary of Labor and Employment, through the Regional Director or his other authorized representative, enforces the OSH Standards in the exercise of visitorial and enforcement powers.
• What is visitorial power?
Visitorial power refers to the authority to conduct inspections or investigations in the premises of an employer at any time of the day or night whenever work is being undertaken. This is necessary to determine violations or to enforce the rights of workers under the Labor Code. Under this power, the employer may be required to submit reports and other documents to determine any violation.
• What is enforcement power?
Enforcement power refers to the authority of the Secretary or the Regional Director to order an erring employer, after due notice and hearing, to comply with labor standards and issue a writ of execution in case of non-compliance. If the violation poses grave and imminent danger to the health and safety of workers, suspension or cessation of the operations may be effected within 24 hours from the issuance of the order.
• How are these Standards enforced?
These standards are enforced through the inspectorate system. Thus, every employer shall provide to the Secretary or to his/her duly authorized representative access to its premises or records at any time of the day or night whenever there is work to determine and effect compliance.
Every establishment or workplace shall be inspected at least once a year. However, special inspection visits may be authorized by the Regional Office to investigate work-related accidents, occupational illness or dangerous occurrences, conduct surveys, follow-up inspection recommendations, or to conduct investigations or inspections upon request of an employer, worker or labor union in the establishment.
• If a worker or representative of workers or any concerned person believes that such a violation of the OSH Standards exists which threatens with physical harm or poses imminent danger to life, what shall he do to correct the danger?
The said worker or workers’ representative shall request the RO for an inspection of their area by giving full particulars or details regarding such violation or danger.
• What does the Regional Office do in such a case?
The Regional Office evaluates the report and conducts a special inspection or investigation immediately in the subject establishment. The complainant is notified in writing of the outcome of such investigation.
• What is considered hazardous workplace?
A workplace is deemed hazardous if:
- The nature of the work exposes workers to dangerous environmental elements, contaminants or work conditions, including ionizing radiation, chemicals, fire, flammable substances, noxious components, and the like;
- The workers are engaged in construction work, logging, fire-fighting, mining, quarrying, blasting, stevedoring, dock work, deep-sea fishing and mechanized farming;
- The workers use or are exposed to heavy or power-driven machinery or explosive powder-actuated equipment;
- The workers are engaged in the manufacture or handling of explosives and other pyrotechnic products;
- The workers use or are exposed to biological agents such as bacteria, viruses and other parasites.
• What are the duties and responsibilities of the employers and the employees in relation to enforcement and compliance with OSH Standards in the workplace?
DUTIES OF THE EMPLOYERS
- Adopt administrative policies on safety in accordance with the provisions of the Standards;
- Report to the Regional Director or his/her duly authorized representative the policies adopted and the safety organization established;
- Submit reports to the Regional Director or his/her duly authorized representative once in every three months on the safety performance, safety committee meetings and its recommendations and measures taken to implement the recommendation;
- Act on recommended safety measures;
- Provide access to appropriate authorities.
DUTIES OF THE EMPLOYEES
- Follow safety policies;
- Report unsafe conditions and practices to the Supervisor;
- Serve as member of the Health and Safety Committee;
- Cooperate with Health and Safety Committee;
- Assist government agencies in the conduct of safety and health inspection.
• What is a Safety and Health Committee?
A Safety and Health Committee is a group of employees or workers and management that plans and makes policies in all matters pertaining to safety and health in the workplace. All establishments are required to have a Safety and Health Committee.
• When shall an establishment organize a Safety and Health Committee?
In every workplace, a Safety and Health Committee shall be organized within sixty days after the Standards take effect, and for new establishments, within one month from the date business starts operating. In both cases the Safety and Health Committee shall reorganize every January of the following year:
• What are the types and composition of a Safety and Health Committee?
The types and composition of the Safety and Health Committee shall be organized according to the number of employees or workers in a workplace. To view RULE 1040, please click here
• What are the duties of the Safety and Health Committee?
Safety and Health Committee shall:
- Plan and develop accident prevention programs in the workplace;
- Inspect workplace to detect unsafe conditions;
- Review reports of inspection, results of accident investigations and implementation of accident prevention program;
- Conduct safety meetings at least once a month;
- Submit reports to the manager/owner on its meetings and activities;
- Provide necessary assistance to government inspecting authorities in the proper conduct of activities relating to enforcement of the provisions of the Standards;
- Train workers in safe work habits and procedures;
- Develop and maintain a disaster contingency plan and organize such emergency service units as may be necessary to handle disaster situations pursuant to the Emergency Preparedness Manual for Establishments of the Office of Civil Defense