THE SENATE on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill which would require stricter compliance by employers with Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS).

Senate Bill No. 1317 or the “Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standard,” passed the chamber with 20 votes. If enacted, it would amend the Labor Code to impose administrative penalties with fines of up to P100,000 “for every day of non-correction of violations” under the OSHS.

It also guaranteed the payment of workers’ wages and income during work stoppages or suspensions of operation “due to imminent danger as a result of the employer’s violation or fault.”

Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, author and sponsor of the bill, said the proposed measure would increase productivity in workplaces by ensuring maximum safety and health at work.

“This is to reiterate that violation of OSH standards is deliberate disrespect for the well-being of our workers and a derogation of the right to humane conditions of work,” he said in a statement.

The bill was prompted by a series of workplace accidents last year, one of which was a fire at a mall in Davao City, killing 38 call center and mall workers.

Mr. Villanueva also cited a survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in October 2015, which showed that occupational diseases in establishments employing 20 or more workers increased from 85,583 in 2011 to 171,787 in 2013.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) also reported 199 fatal workplace accidents and 232 non-fatal accidents from January 2014 to October 2016.

“Despite the fact that workplace accidents would always prompt tighter regulations, compliance by all industries continues to be an issue. Let us now make safety and health in the workplace work for all,” he said.

Implemented in 1978 by DoLE, the OSHS lays out safety and health rules in workplaces. — Camille A. Aguinaldo