Senator Joel Villanueva has expressed alarm over a report that at least 300 workers at a construction site in Taguig City have been infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he reiterated his call for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to intensify its labor inspections at workplaces.

“Having 327 workers testing positive at a single workplace should already serves as a wake-up call for DOLE. This incident clearly shows how the transmission of the disease can spread to a lot of people if prevention and control measures are lax,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development.

“DOLE must continue its labor inspections in workplaces.”

“DOLE must continue its labor inspections in workplaces to ensure compliance to occupational safety and health (OSH) protocols and help control the spread of COVID-19,” the veteran legislator added.

The seasoned lawmaker also reminded employers to adhere to the interim guidelines issued by the DOLE and the Department of Trade and Industry in May on the prevention of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The guidelines, which was released in May, mandated safety officers to “monitor COVID-19 prevention and control measures” in the workplace, according to the senator.

Safety officers at workplaces should not hesitate to issue a work stoppage order as soon as a worker has been conclusively determined to be infected by COVID-19 to immediately prevent the spread of the disease to other workers, he pointed out.

“Hindi po dapat magdalawang-isip ang mga safety officers na magpatigil ng trabaho kaagad kapag may kaso ng COVID-19 sa kanilang lugar-paggawa upang maiwasan ang pagkahawa ng iba sa pasyente. Inatasan po ang mga safety officers na tiyakin ang kaligtasan ng mga manggagawa sa ilalim ng ating batas,” said Villanueva, who authored the law on OSH standards.

Republic Act No. 11058, or the OSH law, empowers safety officers to issue a work stoppage order as soon as it becomes unsafe for workers in the workplace, without fear of reprisal from management.

“We commend the local government of Taguig for taking the lead in testing and tracing the contacts of the workers.”

“We commend the local government of Taguig for taking the lead in testing and tracing the contacts of the workers, but clearly there has to be more effort coming from the safety personnel of the workplace,” he added.

The Taguig city government recently disclosed that of the 691 workers at a construction site in Bonifacio Global City who tested for the disease, some 327 were discovered to be infected. Authorities said the construction site was placed under quarantine, while contact tracing, further testing and treatment went underway.

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