“With the situation we are in right now, information is one of our strongest weapons in halting the spread of COVID-19 in our respective workplaces. This webinar is part of our efforts to address the need for information during this critical time,” said Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) Executive Director Noel C. Binag, CE.

The KamOSHtahan sa Rehiyon 9 is the first in a series of webinars by the OSHC designed to disseminate vital information o protecting workers and workplaces from Covid-19 and share the best practices from various industries.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Regional Office 9 Director Ofelia Domingo said that the topics in the webinar will “help a lot in promoting safety in the workplace in this time of pandemic” Domingo added that “We need to refocus our occupational safety and health (OSH) programs to respond to Covid-19.”

Jerrick Gerard Go, head of the DOLE Regional Office 9’s Nursing Service Unit and president of the Occupational Safety and Health Nurses – ZamPen Region gave a lecture on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DOLE’s Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 and the role of safety officers in the “new normal”.

“As safety officers, we need to champion the following: increasing physical and mental resilience of our workmates, reducing transmission of covid-19 in the workplace, minimizing contact rate, and reducing the risk of infection from Covid-19,” said Go.  These can be done by establishing preventing and controlling the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces.

Go highlighted the need for through screening of both workers and clients before being allowed to enter the establishment through temperature checks and answering the daily health checklist. Wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, regular disinfection of the workplace, and strict physical distancing are among the most effective measures to prevent Covid-19 transmission.  Go also explained that adoption of alternative work arrangements such as work-from home, shifts, staggered working hours, and compressed work week,  will minimize the number of people in establishments and will provide added protection to senior citizens, those below 21, pregnant women, and other vulnerable individuals. To assist safety officers, the DOLE will e-mail a sample OSH program with Covid-19 measures to the participants of the webinar. The said OSH program may be customized by the companies to respond to the specific risks and hazards in their respective establishments.

Together with DTI, the DOLE Regional Office 9 will be conducting occupational safety and health (OSH) monitoring in the establishments in the region. Go further discussed the need for establishing mental health programs and said that the OHNAP offers psychological first-aid to workers.

Engr. Joeffrey Ian Dapiton, a safety consultant shared the OSH and anti-Covid-19 measures they practice in the construction industry. Strict screening before entry into the construction sites is being implemented and only 50% of the workforce are in the sites at any given time to comply with the physical distancing requirement.

Engr. Magielindo Navarette, a DOLE-accredited safety practitioner, and the environment, health, safety and security officer of Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Zamboanga Plant shared their practices in the manufacturing industry. Among their best practices are hazard identification, using of own utensils, and placement of distance markers and plastic barriers. Engr. Euardo Rivero Jr., president of the ZamPen Occupational Safety and health Network on the other hand stresses that those in the delivery business should implement thorough disinfection of all equipment and materials, and ensure that the drivers avoid unnecessary stopovers. They also encourage their employees to bring their own food during their trips.

END/ DJ Romero