A total of 3,337 participants joined the three-day webinar series conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) on April 26-28, 2021 in celebration of the World Day for Safety and Health at work with the theme “Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises – Invest Now in Resilient Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)

“I would like to stress on the word resilience. The word resilience means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. This has often been mentioned every time disasters happen and single, most ravaging disaster of our time is the Covid-19 Pandemic,” said labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III during his message yesterday, April 28, 2020. “ This global crisis has caused unprecedented health and economic challenges for governments, employers, workers, and the general public It is therefore imperative that we strengthen our OSH programs to make institutions and individuals very, very resilient” he added.

The first webinar featured a lecture on the Civil Service Commission-Department of Labor and Employment – Department of Health Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1-2020. Dir. Cecilia dela Fuente of the CSC discussed the salient points of the JMC highlighting three requirements of designating a safety officer, establishing an occupational safety and health committee, and developing an OSH program suited to the needs of each government agency. Engr. Petronio Arciga of the Environmental Management Bureau – Caraga on the other hand shared the best practices of their agency which were being implemented since 2014.

The second webinar showcased the salient points of the recently issued DOLE DO no. 224-2021 or the Guidelines on Ventilation for Workplaces and Public Transport to prevent the Spread of Covid-19. DOLE Undersecretary Benjo Santos M. Benavidez said that “… Compliance to DO 224 is not without cost. This may put more strain on the finances of financially challenged employers and enterprises. But again, I should remind you that its costlier to lose one’s limb, or worse, life. Once you lose the latter, it is irreplaceable. Our dear life has no price tag. And I think, this is the premium, this is the price of compliance to OSHS. We are actually saving lives.” Mark Felix, PME, industrial hygienist of the OSHC explained how ventilation can be made proper and sufficient for both airconditioned and non-airconditioned workplaces as well as in public transportation and company shuttles.

The third webinar featured discussions on mental health programs in the workplace. Mr. in his message read by International Labour Organization (ILO) Program manager Ceriyln Pastolero, Mr. Khalid Hassan, director of ILO-Philippines said that “… Workers face the additional hazards that have emerged due to new work practices and
procedures adopted.” He explained that new work schemes like teleworking has resulted in ergonomic and psychosocial risks and that the blending of work and private life has lead to mental health issues. OSHC Senior Occupational Health Officer Reynold Sta Ana, MD, discussed the provisions of the DOLE DO 208-2020 or the Guidelines for the Implementation of Mental health Workplace Policies and Programs for the Private Sector and the related regulations such as the CSC memorandum Circular No. 4-2020 which provides for the mental health program in the public sector and the RA 11036 or the Mental Health Act of the Philippines. He also explained practices which individuals can do to care for their mental health and mitigate the impact of stress on their well being. Dr. Anna Sofia Victoria Fajardo, the medical director of the Perpetual Help Medical Center in Biñan Laguna and national vice president of the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine shared the best mental health practices in their hospital.

The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated globally every April 28 to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. It is an awareness-raising campaign intended to focus international attention on the magnitude of the problem and on how promoting and creating a safety and health culture can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries.

END/ DJ Romero