MANILA, Philippines—Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz on Friday ordered an immediate review of the standards applicable to the use of scaffolding in construction, noting that most of the recent accidents in construction were caused by defective or faulty scaffolding.
Baldoz also issued an administrative order instructing all the regional and other relevant offices of the Department of Labor and Employment to provide free construction-safety training for contractors and subcontractors of small-scale establishments.
Last February 3, five laborers were killed while 12 others were injured when the metal scaffolding they were standing on collapsed as they were cleaning the inside of the Malaya Power Plant’s smokestack in Pililla, Rizal.
“There are existing standards on the installation and dismantling of scaffolding that may be already outdated given that building construction nowadays tend to be higher and higher. We need to review these standards and update them to strengthen construction safety,” Baldoz said.
According to DOLE Region 4A director Alex Avila, East-West Works Industrial Services Inc., the contractor which was hired by Malaya Power Corp. to repair the inner lining of a 76-meter-high smokestack, was not registered with the DOLE and has no existing construction and safety and health program approved by the agency.
Further investigation showed that the contractor had no safe operating procedures for the erection and dismantling of scaffoldings and no detailed job hazard analysis, Avila said.
“The contractor used scaffoldings not designed and approved by a structural engineer,” he said, but added that based on interviews with some of the survivors, the workers were wearing complete personal protective equipment at the time of the accident.
The workers were also covered by Social Security System, PhilHealth, and Pag-IBIG and they received wages above the prescribed minimum wage, Avila said.
Baldoz instructed the Bureau of Working Conditions and the Bureau of Labor Relations to convene the Construction Industry Tripartite Council and review Rule 1410 of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards specifically to update its provisions on the erection, building, maintenance, use, and dismantling of scaffolding at all construction sites and align them with modern construction practices and technologies.
Baldoz noted that the Guidelines Governing Safety and Health in the Construction Industry were promulgated way back in 1989 and in 1998, respectively.
She instructed all the regional offices to coordinate with the Employees Compensation Commission, the Occupational Safety and Health Center and its OSH Networks to provide free construction safety training..
“We also would like to help small construction companies by providing them free construction safety training,” Baldoz said.
“The training participants should come from small construction companies and projects that cannot afford to pay training fees. After the training, we shall monitor the re-entry plans of the participants in relation to the implementation of safety and health improvements in the participants’ construction projects,” Baldoz said.
“The tragic accident at the SPC Malaya Power Corp. tells us forcefully that the implementation of measures to prevent injuries and illnesses, and worse, deaths, is a must in every workplace, especially in high-risk jobs such as those in construction,” she added.