“Government offices are in dire need of having occupational safety and health policies and programs. Let us use the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1 series of 2020 or the Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Public Sector to establish the OSH culture in the public sector,” said Occupational Safety and Health Center Executive Director Noel C. Binag, CE.

Civil Service Commission Supervising Human Resource Specialist Anita Cunanan said that “…for so many years, government agencies have been waiting for national OSH policy and we are often left behind compared to the private sector.” According to Cunanan, it took three years to develop the Guidelines.

Ms. Cuanan discussed the salient features of the CSC-DOH-DOLE JMC No. 1 series of 2020 and highlighted the roles of government agencies, permanent employees, job order, and contractual employees; the administrative justice mechanism; and funding source. She explained how the Guidelines addresses the need for safe working conditions for the public sector. She said that preparing for emergencies must not be limited to earthquakes, floods, and storms but must include responding to emerging infectious diseases as well. The Covid-19 Pandemic has necessitated the availability of isolation areas, sufficient and appropriate personal protective equipment and efficient coordination with government health facilities for testing and treatment.

She also stressed the importance of flexible work arrangements and establishing a maximum number of hours of overtime to protect the health of government employees.

Engr. Dioscoro Navarro of the Department of Health Caraga discussed the roles of DOH in the implementation of the Guidelines. The DOH would be establishing a system for the provision of health services for government employees as well as access to health service providers. The DOH will also develop a mechanism for surveillance and monitoring of work-related injuries, diseases, and deaths in the public sector through its Health Information System. They will be providing assistance and human resource support for inspection and investigation of OSH-related accidents.

The DOH is set to develop occupational health services and benefit packages including health insurance for the public sector. They are also developing a manual of operations for the implementation of workplace health programs.

Mr. German Eser, chief of the Training and Public Information Division of OSHC discussed the roles of DOLE in implementing the JMC. The DOLE is tasked to provide relevant OSH Standards and knowledge and information services. The OSHC, in particular, will be developing and implementing OSH training programs for government agencies and has already commenced with a series of free BOSH trainings specifically designed for safety officers in the public sector. The DOLE will also be collaborating with the Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and Employees Compensation Commission (ECC) to formulate compensation guidelines for work-related injuries and illnesses. ECC REU XIII Information Officer Sandee Mocorro discussed the Employees Compensation Program which provides benefits for government employees in cases of work-related accidents and illnesses.ile

Engr. Petronio Arciga of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) Caraga shared the best OSH practices of their agency. According to Arciga, they have begun implementing OSH programs in 2014. The DENR-EMB Caraga was a contender in the 10th Gawad Kaligtasan at Kalusugan (GKK). The GKK is a national biennial award given by the DOLE to companies, individuals, government agencies and microenterprises with outstanding OSH programs.

END/ DJ Romero