Safety and health at work

Commemoration of Workers' Memorial Day and the World Day for Safety and Health

The activity observes World Day for Safety and Health at Work, commemorates Workers' Memorial Day and raises awareness on the important role of trade unions in labour inspection and in the promotion of safe and healthy working conditions.

90 workers’ representatives, of which 35 per cent were women, from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered to commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day and correspondingly observe World Day for Safety and Health at Work. The event was a collaboration between the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), Association of Labor Unions (ALU), Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), IndustriALL, and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Mr. Khalid Hassan, Country Director of the ILO for Philippines, emphasized in his opening address the value of the workers’ organizations in promoting occupational safety and health (OSH) compliance at the enterprise/establishment level. He stressed that conducting campaigns alone will not suffice to promote OSH, but should also be paralleled by their active involvement in policy review and development, and programme implementation.

Mr Khalid Hassan, the newly appointed Director of the International Labour Organization for Philippines, delivers his opening address to workers' representatives from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao during the Commemoration of Workers' Memorial Day and Observance of World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
Mr Arun Kumar, a Workers’ Specialist of ACTRAV from the ILO’s Regional Office for Asia-Pacific (ROAP) applauded the gathering, which demonstrated the importance of the day. He also stressed that workers’ organizations need to be further capacitated on OSH, so they may leverage this in their collective bargaining agreements.

The gathering provided a venue to understand the global state of OSH which were provided by IndustriALL and the ILO. This covered statistics and cases on fatalities, injuries, illnesses and workplace stress. The ILO also explained the key OSH Conventions which are advocated for ratification that will guide its member states in evaluating their policies and programmes to strengthen OSH compliance.

Workers’ representatives from the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, education, mining, public, and informal sectors shared their life stories on OSH which detailed the various issues they are confronted with at their workplaces. The life stories divulge cases of realization for employers to promote OSH only after a fatality, which could have actually been prevented.

Workers’ paid homage to their fallen brothers through a symbolic offering highlighting the important elements of OSH in the workplace such as the relevance of a functional OSH committee and policy, increased capacity of workers through training programmes, and provision of personal protective equipment.

Mr Ramon Certeza, the National Coordinator of IndustriALL for the Philippines, offers a flower for his fallen brothers. The relevance of having a functional OSH committee and clear policy that promotes safety and health was highlighted during the opening.
The gathering was succeeded by a Workshop on the Role of Workers’ Organization in the Labor Law Compliance System, which defined how workers’ can proactively participate in the government’s regulatory framework and mechanism. The workshop provided an opportunity for workers’ representatives to identify the strengths and gaps of the Labor Law Compliance System (LLCS), and allowed them to propose strategies to improve compliance to labour and OSH standards through the integration of workers’ organizations. The Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) and Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) attended the workshop to clarify government guidelines and also present results of inspections across the country.

Participants composed of workers' organizations, Occupational Safety and Health Center, an the ILO support the eradication of workplace stress, which was the theme of this year's World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
The event was funded by the ILO through its two United States Department of Labor (US DOL)-funded projects, the Building a Generation of Safe and Healthy Workers – Safe and Healthy Youth, and Building the Capacity of the Philippine Labor Inspectorate.