Gov’t to investigate Valenzuela factory for possible safety violations
The government on Thursday said it would look into possible violations of occupational safety standards by Kentex Manufacturing Corp. following the death of more than 70 workers due to a massive fire.
READ: Death toll in Valenzuela factory fire rises to 72 | Remains of trapped workers retrieved from razed Valenzuela factory
“[The Department of Labor and Employment] is coordinating with the Bureau of Fire Protection in ascertaining if there has been violations of safety regulations so that proper accountability may be established,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said, a day after a fire razed a factory of slippers in Valenzuela City.
Citing the DOLE, Coloma said Kentex, the owner of the factory, was compliant with occupational safety requirements as of September 2014.
In a separate statement, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said the agency “will ensure that the victims and their families will receive social and labor justice.”
“Through the Bureau of Working Conditions, the Occupational Safety and Health Center and the DOLE National Capital Region, the DOLE will conduct a fast investigation to get to the bottom of the accident, with the view of establishing accountability and responsibility,” Baldoz said.
“The DOLE-NCR has conducted a technical inspection of the company on Jan. 30, 2014, during which the factory’s boilers used for heating have been found to be in satisfactory condition,” she said.
Baldoz, however, said the DOLE staff were unable to enter the factory compound because police and fire personnel were still conducting operations. She said labor laws compliance officers were on standby at the factory while waiting for the mopping up operation and investigation to end.
“Initially, from field reports of our regional office, we knew that the deadly fire was caused by welding works in the main gate of the factory,” she said.
Coloma said the government would intensify efforts to ensure the safety of factory workers.
“Government is firmly determined to intensify inspection of factories to ensure strict compliance with occupational safety and health standards and prevent a repetition of the Kentex fire and similar disasters that pose grave danger to the safety and lives of Filipino workers,” he said.
Coloma said Kentex, a unionized company, had an existing safety committee and its workers were entitled to social security and workmen’s compensation benefits.
Baldoz said they would review the collective bargaining agreement of the union to determine the amount of benefits for the workers.
“The DOLE, through its Employment Compensation Commission, is ready to provide whatever assistance may be necessary, including employees’ compensation program benefits, to the families of the victims, as well as to the survivors of the fire,” she said.
She said the family of the workers who died in the fire would each receive P20,000 in funeral benefit and a death pension benefit.
“For the survivors who need to be hospitalized, they will be entitled to medical or hospital benefits and sickness benefit of up to 120 days at a maximum of P200 per day. Those who were injured are entitled to free rehabilitation, and as may be necessary, prosthesis,” she said.
Livelihood and skills training will also be made available.
Coloma said DOLE had long been bolstering its campaign on compliance with labor law standards through the hiring of additional labor inspectors. In 2014 alone, 76,880 companies were inspected compared to the 23,400 companies in the previous decade.
“Of those companies actually inspected, 44,041 companies were found to be compliant and 23,865 were required to take corrective action; 7,528 companies have since complied, therefore bringing the number of compliant companies to 51,569, or 76 per cent of all those inspected,” he said.
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