In a bid to improve the workplace environment for workers, the Philippines has implemented a new Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSHS) law to replace the previous 1989 OHSS, PD442 laws. Under the new OSHS act, also known as RA 11058, employers are now required to comply with occupational safety and health standards, including updated training requirements, mandated on-site clinic facilities, audit and tracking of compliance, informing workers on all types of hazards in the workplace and giving workers the right to refuse unsafe work, as well as providing safe facilities and personal protective equipment, among others.
As the new law protects workers nationwide, HR professionals need to be aware of how the changes affect their companies. One of the key areas affected by the new legislation is regarding the set up and provision of on-site clinic requirements for employees in the Philippines. Most employers are currently in breach of these regulations and could face heavy fines for non-compliance.
According to the World Health Organization, there were over 125,000 cases of occupational diseases in workplaces in 2015 in Philippines. Out of that number, back pain was the most common type of occupational disease, making up 32.8% of the reported cases. This was followed by essential hypertension (11.5%) and neck and shoulder pain (11.4%). The riskiest industry for workers in 2015 was administrative and support service activities (34.3%) followed by the manufacturing industry (31.1%). These statistics show that something needed to be done to improve the welfare of workers in the Philippines.
The new RA 11058 law amends the 41-year-old Labor Code of the Philippines and covers all establishments, projects, sites, including Philippine economic zones and all other places of work except the public sector.
So how will the changes affect your business? It continues to be the duty of employers to provide workers with a place of employment free from hazardous conditions and ensure all safety and health personnel undergo mandatory training on basic occupational safety and health regulations issued by the Labor department. The new legislation also implements some stringent regulation concerning the provision of on-site clinic facilities that must be provided, this includes strict law on the size, equipment and staffing of the facility according to employee headcount.
The new law also requires employers to create an Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) committee, which will ensure the enforcement of the safety and health program at the workplace.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, employers who violate the law face a penalty of P100,000 per day until the violation has been corrected.
An outsourcing firm with more than 10,000 employees and a health program which included health screenings, wellness programs and an onsite clinic needed to assess to ensure compliance with new local regulations and elevate the overall delivery and capability of its clinic.
With Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) they were able to re-envision the onsite clinic as a hub of health and wellness and implemented an integrated health data record-keeping system including electronic patient files and direct feed of annual check-ups. In addition, a regular health plan and calendar coordinated across all sites by central clinic management was established. This resulted in consistent 100% compliance on triaging high risk new hires to onsite clinic for counselling.
By implementing the above process the client in question was able to lower their medical claims utilization by 16% and also reduce their employee absence rate by 1 day per annum (per employee).
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