Labor department lacks inspectors to ensure occupational safety

BAGUIO CITY – The chief of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in the Cordillera admitted the agency lacked inspectors to ensure the health and safety of workers.

Regional Director Exequiel Guzman admits that they have only 15 to 16 labor inspectors in the region who are ensuring that labor laws like the occupational health and safety standards are being followed by companies and employers.

He said in Baguio City alone, there are around 20,000 businesses that need to be inspected on their compliance.

Guzman disclosed common violations on occupational safety standards include the lack of personal protective equipment for construction workers like hard hats and harness, and lax implementation of fire safety measures in the manufacturing industry like having fire extinguishers in the premises.

The DOLE Cordillera chief said they are doing measures to compensate for their lack of labor inspectors by tapping the help of other agencies like the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in ensuring fire safety in the workplaces, and the help of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in monitoring safety in government-funded constructions.

Another method the agency employs is the promotion of awareness on the implementation and practice of workplace safety, health and environment programs. One such activity is the holding of the Gawad Kaligtasan at Kalusugan (GKK), a biennial award given by the DOLE to companies and individuals with outstanding occupational safety and health practices, innovations and contributions.

According to Deputy Executive Director Jose Maria Batino of the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), which is under DOLE, this award is part of the department’s bid to achieve productivity and zero accident in workplaces.

He added that one of the most common violation they observed in different workplaces in the country is the lack of first-aid responders who can immediately treat accidents and injuries of workers.

Batino said there are only around 800 labor inspectors against over 900,000 workplaces all over the country.