Safety and health

ILO: Safety and health culture crucial in the Philippines

The ILO highlights the need for a safety and health culture especially among young workers in the Philippines to prevent workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses.

Press release | Manila, Philippines | 17 November 2016
MANILA – Despite economic progress, the Philippines faces the challenge of young people in search for decent jobs. Skills mismatch coupled with limited awareness of labour rights, often lead young people to create or accept whatever work is available. They turn to low pay, low productive jobs where unsafe and unhealthy working conditions prevail.

These workplace safety and health challenges were highlighted at the 15th National Occupational Safety and Health Congress held on 17-18 November in Quezon City.

“Despite the progress made in working towards compliance of all establishments especially for the formal sector, there remains much to be done for the vulnerable workers in highly hazardous industries in the informal sector,” said Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III of the Department of Labor and Employment in his keynote message.

According to Undersecretary Lagunzad, the DOLE remains committed to protect the most important right of workers – the right to be protected against work-related injuries and illnesses. This will always be a top priority in addition to DOLE’s efforts to eliminate illegitimate contracting. The Undersecretary stressed that safety and health of workers is non-negotiable.

ILO global estimates show that every year over 2.3 million women and men die at work from an occupational injury or disease with young workers consistently suffering among the highest rates of workplace injury. More than 350,000 of these deaths are due to fatal accidents and almost 2 million are due to fatal work-related diseases. In addition, over 313 million workers are involved in non-fatal occupational accidents causing serious injuries and absences from work.

“Work should not be the reason for deaths, accidents, injuries or illnesses. It burdens workers and their families but it also impacts employers and the rest of the society as they bear the cost. A safety and health preventive culture is crucial to avoid dangers and risks,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

The economic burden of poor occupational safety and health practices is estimated at four per cent (4%) of global Gross Domestic Product each year. Employers bear costly early retirements, loss of skilled staff, absenteeism, and high insurance premiums due to work-related accidents and diseases even if these tragedies can be prevented.

The true costs of occupational accidents and diseases are often much greater than immediately perceived said ILO SafeYouth@Work National Project Coordinator Katherine Brimon in addressing Congress participants. Smart investments in occupational safety and health (OSH) reduce costs such as insurance premiums and absenteeism, while increasing productivity.

Ms Brimon noted that accurate estimates of workers harmed by unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, classified by age group, are not readily available in every country. Overall however, young workers, aged between 15 and 24, are the most affected. These workers suffer up to a 40 per cent higher rate of non-fatal occupational injuries than older workers due to a lack of job experience and limited awareness on the safety and health risks associated with their occupation.

In response, the ILO’s SafeYouth@Work Project seeks to improve workplace safety for young persons in the Philippines through targeted efforts to improve OSH data and statistics, support related law and policies, enhance capacities to improve health and safety in the workplace, and expand OSH knowledge and awareness.

The SafeYouth@Work Project together with other US Department of Labor (USDOL)-funded ILO projects focusing on child labour and labour inspection, is part of a comprehensive effort to address workplace safety and health issues in a complementary way, and to develop strategies for sustainable positive results.

For further information please contact:

Minette Rimando
Media and Public Information
ILO Country Office for the Philippines
Tel.: +63 2 580 9900 or 580 9905

Katherine Brimon
National Project Coordinator
ILO SafeYouth@Work
Tel.: +63 2 580 9900 or 580 9928