Workplace safety measures present at over 98% of offices before pandemic


OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH, safety and productivity measures were in place in over 98% of establishments in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, citing the results of a survey.

The Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment: Module on Occupational Safety and Health Practices found that 98.6% of the 38,305 establishments with 20 or more employees had in place preventative and control measures to safeguard workers, up from 98.1% in 2017.

The wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles was the top category of business in terms of preventative measures in place, with 24.8% of the segment having such measures in place (from 24.1% in 2017). This was followed by manufacturing at 16.8% (from 18.4%), accommodation and food service activities at 12.5% (from 13.1%), education at 10.9% (from 11.1%), and administrative support and service activities at 7.2% (from 5.9%).

The most common safety measures or activities listed by PSA were: posted safety signage or warnings (89.7% of all establishments), disseminated information materials on safety and health (83.9%), and regularly inspected and conducted maintenance of equipment, mechanical and electrical facilities (83.2%).

Meanwhile, about 95.8% or 36,694 of all establishments implemented policies or programs for workers health and safety.

The most common such policies and programs were smoke-free workplace (85.3%), fire prevention and control programs (83.6%), sexual harassment prevention policies (77.7%), emergency and preparedness response programs (74.0%), and work accident prevention programs (72.3%).

About 85.8% of all establishments in 2019 said they conducted various OSH-related training and seminars that prepared employees on issues regarding safety, health and environmental hazards.

The most common forms of training involved first aid (61.5%), fire safety (60.9%), 40-hour basic OSH courses (44.9%), emergency preparedness (32.2%), and drug-free workplace seminars (27.4%).

In a separate module on Productivity Improvement Programs (PIP) and Gainsharing Practices, only 15,234 (or 39.8%) of tall establishments in 2019 were found to have carried out workplace programs to improve worker and enterprise productivity.

The electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning supply industries posted a 57.1% share of establishments with PIP training, or 172 of the 301 establishments surveyed.

This was followed by human health and social work activities except public health activities at 49.9% (of 1,447 establishments); manufacturing at 48.9% (of 6,406); arts, entertainment, and recreation at 48.6% (of 313); and education except public education at 38.8% (of 4,156).

About 25.8% or 3,926 of establishments cited lack of funds for not conducting PIP sessions. The second most common reason cited was lack of manpower or support from the employees at 13.0%.

By the time the pandemic set in, the survey estimated that 72.5% of business operations were disrupted by community quarantines and strict lockdowns as of June 2020.

About 64.1% of firms reported that sales were down from a year earlier, while 48.3% resorted to reduced operating hours.

The report found that the pandemic resulted in reduced cost of production cost inputs (45.4% of establishments surveyed); implementation of work-from-home arrangements (36.6%); temporarily layoffs (16.9%), shuttered operations with continued compensation for workers (16.1%); and shuttered operations with no compensation for workers (13.9%).

Some 44.5% of establishments said that they tapped other sources of funding during the slowdown. The top source of such funds, cited by 45.7% of those surveyed, was delayed payments to suppliers, followed by early payments from customers, resorted to by 33.1%. Some 24.5% took on bank loans. — Ana Olivia A. Tirona