During times of unforeseeable events such as natural disasters like earthquake or any unavoidable accidents, it is every employee’s right to know if their office or workplace is safe.
Recently, the Department of Labor and Employment implemented a stricter office healthcare law (read here) that might cost your company a leg, if you violated its standards and guidelines.
In order to avoid violations, D.O 198-19 listed the rights of employees and the duties of the employers for the safety of everyone in the workforce population.
But what are these rights?
To know the different types of hazards in the workplace
A hazard is always defined as the potential damage, harm or adverse health effects to the employees or to the business.
It could be of the following:
- Thing such as knife, or any harmful objects in the offices that may cause employees injuries like cuts.
- Substance like benzene and biological agent like bacteria or virus that may cause infections
- Condition like wet floors that may cause slips and falls
- Source of energy like the electricity that may cause electrocution or shock
- Lack of emergency procedures,
- Process and practices like improper scheduling that may compromise the employee’s sleep-wake cycle
- Ergonomic problems that may result to muscle pain and other posture problems
- Behavior that may result workplace violence and bullying.
It is important that workers are oriented with their work, including the hazards that are associated in it and provided with proper and high quality personal protective equipment (PPE) by their employer.
Be provided with training, education and orientation
Before the employee could start to work, it is important that he/she is well-oriented of the health and safety policies of the company.
If there are updates and revision of the policy, the management can discuss the policy during the town hall or huddle meetings.
There should be a tracker of employees who have received the copy of the policies or those who have been updated in order to monitor and ensure that all employees received proper orientation.
Aside from orientations, employees have the right to be trained in first aid, disaster preparedness and other health and safety training that is applicable and necessary depending on the type of business you company has.
Fire drills, earthquake drill, return demo of first aid and emergency protocols must be conducted regularly so that employees are trained and prepared in case these unexpected events happen.
To refuse unsafe work without threat from the employer in cases of imminent danger
Imminent danger is defined as any conditions or practices in any place of employment which are such that a danger exists which could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the imminence of such danger can be eliminated through the enforcement procedures (OSHA).
In order to be considered as an imminent danger, these conditions must be met:
- There must be a threat of death or serious physical harm. 🤕
“Serious physical harm” means that a part of the body is damaged so severely that it cannot be used or cannot be used very well.
- For a health hazard there must be a reasonable expectation that toxic substances or other health hazards are present and exposure to them will shorten life or cause substantial reduction in physical or mental efficiency.
This harm caused by the health hazard does not have to happen immediately.
- The threat must be immediate or imminent.
This means that you must believe that death or serious physical harm could occur within a short time.
If the company’s safety officer believes that an imminent danger is existing, he/she must notify the affected employees and the employer to stop the imminent danger.
In this case, employees can be designated to other work areas.
Applicants can also refuse job offers if they believe that the work is not safe for them. With this, employers must not force or threaten the employees with their decisions.
To report accidents and dangerous occurrences to DOLE-Regional Offices and other government agencies in the most convenient way
Unfortunate events such as accidents may be inevitable and workers or their representatives have the right to report accidents, dangerous occurrences and hazards to the employer, DOLE or any concerned agencies that may provide preventive actions to these circumstances.
Being aware of the rights of employees, it is easier to enumerate the duties of the employers in pursuant to the Republic Act 11058 and its IRR D.O 198-18: 💪
- Provide safe and healthy workplace through the capacity building of all employees including mandatory trainings;
- Provide information on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
- Provide and use of devices/equipment with approved industry standards;
- Comply with all the requirements of the OSH Standards;
- Provide and shoulder the cost of an appropriate DOLE tested and approved Personal Protective Equipment to the workers.
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