Articles Rights to Safe and Healthful Conditions of Work

Rights to Safe and Healthful Conditions of Work

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What does safety and health in the workplace mean?

Safety refers to the physical or environmental conditions of work which comply with prescribed Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards and which allow the workers to perform the job without or within acceptable exposure limit to hazards. Occupational safety also refers to practices related to production and work process.

  Health means a sound state of the body and mind of the workers that enables the worker or employee to perform the job normally.  

 

What does OSH Standards mean?

OSH Standards are mandatory rules and standards set and enforced to eliminate or reduce occupational safety and health hazards in the workplace.  

What is the purpose of OSH Standards?

OSH Standards aim to provide at least the minimum acceptable degree of protection that must be afforded to every worker in relation to the working conditions and dangers of injury, sickness or death that may arise by reason of the worker's occupation. The provision of OSH Standards by the State is an exercise of police power, with the intention of promoting the welfare and well-being of the workers.  

What are covered by the General OSH Standards?

 All establishments, workplaces and other undertakings are covered, including agricultural enterprises whether operating for profit or not, except:

  • Residential places exclusively devoted to dwelling purposes.

 

What does right to safe and healthful conditions of work mean?

It means that the worker shall be assured of effective protection against the danger of injury, sickness or death through safe and healthful working conditions.  

What is the minimum standard on safety and health in the workplace?

 The OSH Standards provide that every company shall keep and maintain its workplace free from work hazards that are likely to cause physical harm to the workers or damage to property. Thus, the worker is entitled to be provided by the employer with:

  • Appropriate seats, lighting and ventilation;
  • Adequate passageways, exits and fire fighting equipment;
  • Separate facilities for men and women;
  • Appropriate safety devices like protective gears, masks, helmets, safety boots, coats or first-aid kits;
  • Medicines, medical supplies or first-aid kits;
  • Free medical and dental services and facilities.
 

What other safety requirements should employers provide their employees?

Employers must provide their employees with the following instruments and/or working stations:

  • Appropriate protective equipment and clothing such as overall head coverings, goggles, gloves aprons and respirators;
  • A properly designed exhaust system and waste disposal, local exhaust or general ventilation to keep toxic fumes or gases, away from workers' breathing zone;
  • Adequate number of fire extinguishers in the workplace;
  • Designated safe smoking and welding areas far from combustible, flammable or explosive materials, containers filled with explosives or flammable substances, and containers that have held explosives or flammable materials;
 

What safety measures must be observed within the premises of establishments?

 Establishments must observe the following safety measures:

  • Building premises shall have adequate fire, emergency or danger signs and safety instructions of standard colors and sizes visible at all times;
  • Other visible signs that may be needed to direct the driver of motorized vehicle such as STOP, YIELD, and DO NOT ENTER, properly positioned within the compound of the establishment shall be used to increase safety especially during the night;
  • Handicapped employees shall be restricted only to designated workplaces. As far as practicable and feasible they shall be provided with facilities for safe and convenient movement within the establishment;
  • Good housekeeping shall be maintained at all times through cleanliness of building, yards, machines, equipment, regular waste disposal, and orderly arrangement of process operations, storage and filing materials;
  • Adequate dressing rooms, locker rooms, comfort rooms and lavatories separate for male and female workers shall be provided.
 

Who enforces OSH Standards?

  The Secretary of Labor and Employment, through the Regional Director or his other authorized representative, enforces the OSH Standards in the exercise of victorial and enforcement powers.
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