Lawmaker bans ‘self-assessment’ of companies on workers’ safety in Congress bill

ON THE 40th day of the ‘Eton 11’ accident which left ten workers dead and one seriously injured,  Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raymond ‘Mong’ Palatino today filed House Bill no. 4332 which seeks to strictly enforce the occupational safety and health standards in workplaces by strengthening the visitorial and enforcement power of DOLE.

Palatino said that the Eton 11 accident last January 27 could have been prevented if only DOLE were committed in ensuring workers’ safety. Investigation of labor inspectors pinned ETON Properties in violation of existing labor standards.

Palatino stressed that HB 4334 brings back to DOLE its visitorial and enforcement power to spot violations of labor standards in workplaces and act accordingly.

Palatino furthered that DOLE waived its responsibility on workers’ rights and welfare when in 2004 it released Department Order 57-04 (DO 57-04) which allows companies with at least 200 employees or workers to conduct self-assessment with regard to their compliance with labor standards.

Palatino called this policy “absurd” for it effectively permits companies to forgo workers rights and welfare since the policy cancels the jurisdiction of DOLE over them.

“DO 57-04 has made almost irrelevant the government’s power of ensuring compliance with labor standards, especially with those regarding occupational safety and health in workplaces. It has effectively made these standards voluntary instead of mandatory,” Palatino said.

A research by the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety revealed that in 2009, 26 workers in the construction sector died of work-related causes while another 116 were injured.

“How many more workers should die from work-related causes before DOLE takes action? It has been 40 days since the Eton 11 accident and DOLE has neither repealed DO 57-04 nor substantially sanctioned Eton Properties. If DOLE does not want to do its job right, then lawmakers like myself will force them to,” Palatino said.

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