A new law for construction safety is proposed by the Department of Labor and Employment to replace the existing Construction Occupational Safety and Health Guidelines currently embodied in DOLE Department Order No 13 of 1998 (DOLE DO 13). This is seen to be a positive move in order to ensure that safety is observed at all construction sites. However, the question remains, will it be enough? The proposed draft, currently being circulated for comment, is modeled on DOLE DO 13. The major differences are that the general contractor and the project owner/developer will be co-responsible for the Construction Occupational Safety and Health Program (CSHP) and the penalty provisions which, over and above hefty fines, also provides for imprisonment of up to 6 years. For any law dealing with construction occupational safety and health to be effective it must: Be practically “doable”;
Be capable of effective enforcement (must ensure that the risk of non-compliance is not a viable option);
Take into consideration the small and medium sized contractor as well as small projects;
Bear in mind the present level of training and safety awareness of workers;
Bear in mind the total current number of trained safety officers;
Provide a tariff structure (or similar type of provision) in order that the cost of safety be uniform and not the subject of competition between project bidders;
Provide for accountability on the part of the contractor, project owner/developer, project manager/supervising professional (owner appointed), building official and all other parties connected to each construction project albeit in the public or private sector; and
Contain measures to instill a culture of safety in the construction industry. In its present form, the proposed Bill falls short of the above. This proposed law creates an unique opportunity to correct many aspects of the construction industry and make construction sites safer workplaces. This opportunity should not be passed up on and in the next few weeks PCA Metropolitan will publish a series of articles highlighting aspects that should and need to be addressed to ensure compliance, create safety awareness and make the proposed law practically doable.