Employers urged to prioritize safety, health of workers amid Taal eruption, ashfall
MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Monday urged employers to prioritize the health and safety of their workers as ashfall brought about by Taal Volcano’s phreatic eruption continue to affect Metro Manila and other provinces near the volcano.
In a statement, Senator Joel Villanueva called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to immediately release an advisory on work in the areas of Region 4-A, especially in Batangas to ensure the health and safety of workers as a result of Taal Volcano’s latest activity.
“Given the heightened concerns of workers in Batangas, parts of Laguna and Cavite, as well as nearby areas including Metro Manila, the DOLE must help ease the tension by issuing a relevant labor advisory which can guide the private sector in deciding whether to run their operations or offices in the light of Taal’s eruptions,” Villaneuva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said in a statement.
He explained that an advisory from DOLE is needed because under the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) Act, workers’ right to refuse to work on account of imminent danger must be supported by a finding from DOLE that an imminent danger to their health and safety exists.
The law’s implementing rules and regulations extend the similar protection against employers’ threat or reprisal to safety officers who issue work stoppage orders, he noted.
If workers are exposed outdoors, they should be provided with adequate personal protective equipment, which includes appropriate dust masks, he pointed out.
Villanueva, likewise, urged employers and their designated safety officers to assess whether there is imminent danger in their workplace and prioritize to safeguard the health and safety of their workers.
“Employers and company-designated safety officers should also determine on their own whether it is safe for their workers to report today in their workplace,” he said.
“Safety officers are empowered to issue a work-stoppage order in their workplaces without threat or reprisal from employers as enshrined in the law and implementing rules,” he added.
For her part, Senator Risa Hontiveros called on employers not to require employees to go to work.
Government work & classes have been suspended. Private companies should follow suit.ADVERTISEMENT
Ashfall is a great health risk. Pwedeng magka-respiratory problems & skin irritation kung may prolonged exposure.
Please do not require employees to get to work. Safety first!
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) January 13, 2020
“Government work & classes have been suspended. Private companies should follow suit,” she said in a tweet.
“Ashfall is a great health risk. Pwedeng magka-respiratory (There are chances of respiratory) problems & skin irritation kung may (if there is) prolonged exposure,” she added.
“Please do not require employees to get to work. Safety first!” she further said.
The Taal Volcano is currently on Alert Level 4 which means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) earlier said.
Cities in Metro Manila and other provinces have already suspended classes on Monday following the Taal Volcano’s latest activity.
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