Extended work hours cited in death in Hanjin
SUBIC, Zambales—The latest worker to die in the Hanjin shipyard here had been working for 20 straight hours on the day he was pinned by a mobile elevated platform, according to a labor group.
Pete Pinlac, chair of Manggagawa para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan, told the Inquirer in a text message that Jerwin Labajan, 23, was “overworked” when the accident occurred on Sept. 11 at the shipbuilding facility of Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc. here.
“How many workers must die for the government to realize that the safety of our workers is being compromised because of the cheap labor policy?” asked Pinlac, whose group helped organize workers in Hanjin.
But Hanjin officials, in a statement, said Labajan, a day-shift worker, was not working for 20 hours before the accident. Labajan was an employee of Kalaya I-Tech under Subic Shipbuilder Corp. that operates at the shipyard.
Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin Shipyard said Labajan, a resident of Barangay Manggahan in this town, started working at the Hanjin shipyard in 2010.
The company’s statement said initial findings showed that there was “human error on Labajan’s part as he was operating the cherry picker alone.”
“A foot switch was likely bypassed by Labajan, causing the cherry picker’s uncontrolled movement toward the girder,” it said.
Hanjin officials said they regretted the accident. “We’re doing everything to make sure that any similar incident will not happen again,” they said.
Help for the family
They said representatives of the subcontractor were coordinating with Labajan’s relatives and would extend all kinds of assistance to his family.
They said Labajan, a trained and qualified operator of the cherry picker, was wearing his safety gear during the accident.
Hanjin said it would strictly enforce and enhance safety rules and regulations inside the shipyard.
“Records will show that the percentage of injuries, mostly minor, recorded monthly is very low vis-à-vis the 24,000 workers in the shipyard,” the company said.
Hanjin also noted that most of the fatal accidents happened during the construction of the shipyard in 2006. It said all work-related injuries were reported to the Department of Labor and Employment and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority every month since the operation of the shipyard started in 2008.
Pinlac said Labajan was the third worker in the Hanjin shipyard to die this year. He said his group recorded 37 other workers who died at the shipyard and about 6,000 work-related accidents since Hanjin started operations six years ago.