Close to 700 businesses found to have ‘deficiencies’ in observing protocols
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Tuesday that it found 668 business establishments to have “deficiencies” in complying with health standards being imposed for workplaces to prevent the COVID-19 spread.
According to Labor Assistant Secretary Teresita Cucueco, the DOLE has found an 82.82 percent initial compliance rate for all 3,888 business establishments covering 265,752 workers that were monitored from January to February this year.
Cucueco bared these figures following the observation of the Department of Health that there has been an increase of COVID-19 infection clusters in households and workplaces.
Of the establishments that were monitored, she said 1,979 are micro-businesses with nine and below employees; 1,472 are small businesses with 10 to 99 employees; 180 are medium businesses with 100 to 199 employees, and; 257 are large businesses with 200 and more employees.
She said the top five industries that were monitored by the DOLE are wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles, other service activities, accommodation and food services, administrative and support services, and financial and insurance activities.
Meanwhile, among the violations that were found by the department were deficiencies on the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) program that should include COVID-19 control plans, enforcement and monitoring of the said program by the OSH committee or safety officer, the safety officer’s strict implementation of health protocols, and the organization of the OSH committee.
Other deficiencies on the compliance are on the mandatory orientation for workers on latest updates on COVID-19, accomplishing health declaration form by workers and visitors and contact tracing form by clients and visitors, checking of temperature, putting up signages on COVID-19 safety measures, and placing disinfectant footbaths at the entrance of the premises if possible.
According to Cucueco, the DOLE normally provides ample time for owners of businesses found with violations to comply with the health standards.
“There is a period for correction to comply. If it’s a minimum public health standard, we tend to [order them to] comply ASAP because this is a situation where it needs immediate compliance, but we give them enough time,” she said in an online media forum.
She added that penalties are only imposed when businesses willfully violate the guidelines laid down by the government.
“Here with COVID we have to fast track many things and we have to ask the owner how soon shall you comply because penalties will only happen when they willfully violate,” said Cucueco.
“After giving them all the findings, we work on recommendations and they still willfully violate, then there are the penalties. This is now part of the OSH law and its IRR (implementing rules and regulations) which is the Republic Act 11058, and the DOLE DO (Department Order) 198, and there are administrative fines that are fines for non-compliance,” she explained.
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