Unsafe workplaces threaten workers’ lives

This article is available in PilipinoBisayaHiligaynon

Stephen Corilla, a worker of Universal Robina Corporation (URC) in Tabok, Mandaue City, Cebu, was added to the long list of victims of violations of occupational safety and health standards in workplaces. Corilla died last June 2 when the company’s pulverizer machine malfunctioned while he was in it.

According to workers and a report by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the machine’s safety device was defective causing it to suddenly run while Corilla was inside cleaning it. The victim was asked to clean the machine despite lack of experience and had just started work two weeks earlier.

In addition, the company did not immediately respond to the incident and continued operations after the crime. It did not immediately report the incident to the police, the barangay or DOLE. In addition, URC has yet to provide any substantial aid to the victim’s family, asserting that Corilla is agency-hired and thus, not a worker of the company.

Prior the Corilla’s death, four workers were killed after a building in the Muralla Industrial Park in Barangay Libtong, Meycauayan, Bulacan crumbled last May 31. The incident was caused by overloading of parcels and packages in the building.

A report by the International Labor Organization-Philippines said that 17 of 18 workers labor in substandard working conditions. However, it was only in 2018 when violators of occupational safety and health standards were penalized after a legislation was passed prompted by the death of 72 workers trapped inside a burning factory owned by Kentex. According to the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development, despite the law, only 58.36% of workplaces observe safety and health standards. The government and its agencies also fail to address the long-standing problems pertaining to inspection of workplaces to ensure the law’s implementation.

The annual inspection of more than a million establishments in the country is undertaken by only 774 employees. They have only inspected less than 10% of the total in the past three years.

The most common violations of occupational safety and health standards violations since 2019 include the lack of first aiders, safety officers, and fire inspection clearances.

Amid a series of workplace accidents, labor organizations declared that “it is time to review and amend existing laws that should protect workers’ rights.” Because of the law’s loopholes, capitalists are free to continue operations despite the numerous cases of violations of the provisions.

Unsafe workplaces threaten workers' lives