OSH LAW (RA11058)

Reinforcing Occupational Safety and Health Standards in Philippine Workplaces through RA 11058

Safe work procedures ensure better productivity as well as job security, and these are needed now more than ever in the midst of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The health and safety of workers in the Philippines are promoted and protected by Republic Act No. 11058 or an “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof.”

It was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in August 2018. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) released the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) in December 2018 upon the approval of Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III.

The OSH Law provides that each Filipino worker is protected against injury, sickness or death through safe and healthful working conditions and that employers must promote strict but dynamic, inclusive, and gender-sensitive measures in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs related to occupational safety and health.

It applies to all establishments, projects, sites, including Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) establishments, and all other workplaces. The  exposure to safety and health hazards is the basis for having High Risk Establishments, Medium Risk Establishments, and Low Risk Establishments.

All covered workplaces must have an Occupational Safety Health (OSH) Program that is approved by the DOLE. The OSH Program must have the following:

  1. Statement of commitment to comply with OSH requirements;
  2. General safety and health, including a drug-free workplace;
  3. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)/tuberculosis/hepatitis prevention control;
  4. Company or project details;
  5. Composition and duties of the safety and health committee;
  6. Occupational Safety and health personnel and facilities;
  7. Safety and health promotion, training and education;
  8. Conduct of toolbox meetings;
  9. Accident/incident/illness investigation, recording and reporting;
  10. Provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
  11. Provision of safety signage;
  12. Dust control and management, and regulations on activities such as building of temporary structures, and lifting and operation of electrical, mechanical, communications systems and other equipment;
  13. Provision of workers' welfare facilities;
  14. Emergency preparedness and response plan;
  15. Waste management system; and
  16. Prohibited acts and penalties for violations.

Each workplace must have an OSH Committee to oversee the overall management of the OSH Program. An OSH Officer must be present in a workplace at all times to ensure  the enforcement of  the OSH Program.

The DOLE requires all safety and health personnel to undergo mandatory training on basic OSH for safety officers. It also requires all workers to undergo the mandatory 8-hour safety and health seminar that must have a joint employer-employee orientation.

Meanwhile, the OSH Law outlines the duties of employers, contractors, subcontractors, and those who manage, control, or supervise work:

  1. Furnish the workers a place of employment free from hazardous conditions that are causing or are likely to cause death, illness or physical harm to the workers;
  2. Give complete job safety instructions or orientation to all the workers especially to those entering the job for the first time, including those relating to familiarization with their work environment;
  3. Inform the workers of the hazards associated with their work health risks involved ot to which they are exposed to, preventive measures to eliminate or minimize the risks, and steps to be taken in cases of emergency;
  4. Use only approved devices and equipment for the workplace;
  5. Comply with OSH standards including training medical examination and where necessary, provision of protective and safety devices such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and machine guards;
  6. Allow workers and their safety and health representatives to participate actively in the process of organizing, planning, implementing and evaluating the safety and health program to improve safety and health in the workplace; and
  7. Provide, where necessary, for measures to deal with emergencies and accidents including first-aid arrangements.

Workers also have duties such as following the OSH standards, using the PPEs and other safety devices, and reporting work hazards to the supervisor. The following rights of workers are indicated in the OSH Law:

  1. Workers' Right to Know. - The right to safety and health at work shall be guaranteed. All workers shall be appropriately informed by the employer about all types of hazards in the workplace, and provided access to training and education on chemical safety, electrical safety mechanical safety, and ergonomical safety.
  2. Workers' Right to Refuse Unsafe Work. - The worker has the right of refusal to work without threat or reprisal from the employer if, as determined by the DOLE, an imminent danger situation exists in the workplace that may result in illness, injury, or death, and corrective actions to eliminate the danger have not been undertaken by the employer.
  3. Workers' Right to Report Accidents. - Workers and their representatives shall have the right to report accidents, dangerous occurrences, and hazards to the employer, to the DOLE, and other concerned government agencies exercising jurisdiction as the competent authority in the specific industry or economic activity.
  4. Workers' Right to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). - Every employer, contractor or subcontractor, if any, shall provide his workers, free of charge, protective equipment for their eyes, face, hands and feet, and free, and lifeline, safety belt or harness, gas or dust respirators or masks, protective shields whenever necessary by reason of the hazardous work process or environment.

The Labor Secretary and his authorized representatives have the authority to enforce the OSH Law in all establishments and conduct inspections, investigations, and annual spot audits.

Employers who violate the OSH Law may be fined PHP 100,000 per day of non-compliance. The collected fines will be used for the conduct of OSH training sessions, education, and other programs.

For further reference, click Republic Act No. 11058 for the full text and DOLE Department Order No. 198 for its Implementing Rules and Regulations.