Workers in the public sector are now better protected from work-related accidents and illnesses with the newly issued Joint Memorandum Circular NO.1, series of 2020, of the Civil Service Commission, Department of Health, and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

The said memorandum Circular contains the Occupational Safety and Health Standard for the Public Sector which will cover all officials and employees in the National Government Agencies, State Universities and Colleges, Local Government Units, and Government Owned and Controlled Corporations, with permanent, temporary, or casual status, including job order and contract of service workers, and  institutional and individual contractors.

All government agencies are required to establish their own occupational safety and health (OSH) program, create a safety and health committee and/or special investigation committee, and designate a safety and health officer to ensure that compliance to this guidelines is implemented in their respective workplaces. The budget for the implementation of OSH programs must be included in the agency’s Annual Work and Financial Plan.

The OSH program of government agencies should, at the minimum, include prevention and surveillance for work-related accidents and illnesses, medical services assistance and rehabilitation, health and wellness, and information and education campaigns, Health and wellness in the workplaces may be enhanced with the installation of facilities for recreation, trainings, and day care, as well as lactation rooms for breastfeeding employees. The needs of pregnant women, older workers, differently-abled, and special-needs workers must be considered in the development of work assignments and good working atmosphere.

Adequate and appropriate signages for fire, emergency, danger, and the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labelling of Chemicals must be in displayed in strategic places. Facilities for persons with disabilities must be installed as well as adequate and separate comfort rooms and sanitary facilities for male and female employees.  The construction and maintenance of buildings must conform to Rule 1960 of the DOLE’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS).

To prevent the exposure of workers to gases, contaminants, and other stressors that can affect health, an indoor air quality management program must be implemented. The handling, and use, and storage of hazardous materials must also be in conformance to the Republic Act No. 6969, Rule 1090 of DOLE’s OSHS, and DOLE Department Order 136 -14, series of 2014.

Good housekeeping must be maintained at all times and provisions for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPEs) must comply with Rule 1080 of DOLE’s OSHS.

A risk reduction management system and crisis management plan and contingency program must be established. These plans and programs must include the regular conduct of emergency drills and trainings, provision f emergency supplies such as fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and the designation of first-aiders trained and certified by the Philippine Red Cross, or other accredited first-aid training providers. There should also be a Memorandum of Agreement with the nearest government health facility for cases of medical emergencies.

Government agencies must also implement workplaces policies and programs on medical assistance and benefits, prohibition of smoking, drug-free workplace, and prevention and control of tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, and Hepatitis B.

Adequate breaks must be provided to prevent exposure of employees to illnesses brought about by prolonged sitting. Agency heads must also allow and adopt flexible work arrangements and ensure strict observance of the Omnibus Rules on Leaves.  

Designated safety officers must undergo OSH trainings to fulfill his/hr responsibilities which include acting as the focal person for implementing OSH programs in the workplace, serving as secretary of the safety and health committee, reporting accidents and coordinating OSH training programs for his/her colleagues.

The safety and health committee of each government agency must be chaired by the head of the agency or his/her authorized representative and the members must include the highest ranking officer in charge of human resource, two representatives from the accredited employees’ association, the agency physician, and a representative from the Local Risk Reduction and Management Council. Safety and health committees must e established at the national, local and regional levels as applicable.

There should be reporting mechanism for work-related accidents, injuries, and illnesses If these should result in death or permanent total disability a report must be submitted within 24 hours after its occurrence to the safety and health committee and head of the agency.

Officials and employees who violate this guidelines shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action.

END/ DJ Romero