Senator Joel Villanueva urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and education authorities to craft safety guidelines for school personnel after the government greenlighted the proposal to allow face-to-face or classroom classes in areas determined to have a low risk of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission.

Villanueva asked DOLE to convene with their counterparts in the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools and training facilities that would be allowed to open for students.

“Bago po tuluyang payagan ang mga paaralan at training institutes na magpapasok ng mga estudyante, dapat pong magbalangkas ng mga panuntunan para sa kaligtasan ng mga guro at iba pang empleyado ng mga paaralan at training institutes,” the veteran legislator said. “Sa pagpapatupad ng mga safety protocol sa mga paaralan, gusto po natin bigyan ng kasiguruhan ang mga magulang na ligtas para sa kanilang mga anak ang pumasok sa mga eskwelahan.”

“A safe working environment contributes to sound operation of the school.”

“Schools and training facilities safety protocols should also assure school personnel that workers’ safety is a top priority. A safe working environment contributes to sound operation of the school,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development explained that the prevailing regulation on COVID-19 prevention jointly issued by the labor and trade departments in May might not be enough to cover the nuances of school operations.

“DOLE should convene with education authorities to come up with specific occupational safety and health standards.”

The senator suggested that the DOLE convene with education authorities to come up with specific occupational safety and health standards for schools and training facilities.

The law on workers’ safety, formally known as Republic Act No. 11058 or the Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSH) Act, mandates the institution of measures in workplaces to promote the well-being of workers.

The strict observance of OSH standards has drawn more significance in the prevailing pandemic while a vaccine remains to be discovered, he pointed out, who principally authored and sponsored the measure in the Senate.

“Umaasa po tayo sa DOLE na ito ang mangunguna sa pagbabalangkas ng mga panuntunan para sa kapakanan ng mga manggagagawa sa sektor ng edukasyon. Dapat pong maging malinaw ang ipapatupad na workers’ safety protocol sa mga paaralan at training facilities upang hindi na dumami pa ang kaso ng COVID-19,” Villanueva said.

He also reiterated his appeal to DOLE to resume its labor inspections at workplaces to ensure the strict observance of OSH standards in preventing the spread of the disease.

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