What is OSH in the Philippines: Importance, Current State, and Legal Basis

Discover what is OSH and what it entails, its components, importance, and legal framework in the Philippines.

Table of Contents

Main Key Takeaways:

Comprehensive Scope

OSH in the Philippines encompasses regulations and policies aimed at ensuring safe and healthy working conditions across all industries. It covers prevention of accidents, injuries, and illnesses through proactive measures and compliance with legal standards.

Three Major Components

OSH consists of three main components: Occupational Safety, which focuses on preventing accidents and unsafe conditions; Occupational Health, which addresses work-related illnesses and health programs; and Industrial Hygiene, which identifies and controls workplace hazards.

Objectives of OSH

The primary goals of OSH are to promote and maintain the physical, mental, and social well-being of employees; prevent negative health impacts from work conditions; and adapt work processes to fit human capabilities, enhancing overall workplace safety.

Importance for Employees

OSH is crucial for ethical reasons (protecting workers' rights), economic benefits (reducing costs and enhancing productivity), legal compliance (adhering to RA 11058 and DO 198-18), and safeguarding employees' safety and health.

Legal Framework

RA 11058 establishes the legal basis for OSH in the Philippines, emphasizing safe workplaces, compliance with standards, protection of workers' rights, and penalties for violations. DO 198-18 serves as the implementing rules and regulations for RA 11058.

Impact and Challenges

OSH implementation in the Philippines faces challenges highlighted by data showing incidents across various sectors, underscoring the need for continued focus on safety measures and compliance.

Role in Workplace Culture

Emphasizing OSH promotes a positive workplace culture, contributing to higher job satisfaction, reduced turnover, and overall improvement in workplace atmosphere and productivity.

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What is OSH?

OSH or Occupational Safety and Health refers to the discipline focused on the safety, health, and welfare of people at work. In the Philippines, OSH encompasses a broad range of regulations, and policies designed to ensure that working conditions are safe and conducive to the well-being of employees. This includes the preventions of workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses through proactive measures and compliance with the Philippine legal standards.

What are the 3 Major Components of OSH?

Let us dissect what OSH or Occupational Safety and Health is to further understand its major components. Because each component of the OSH plays an important role in making sure that employees are safe and healthy at work.

1. Occupational Safety

Occupational safety focuses on identifying the causes of workplace accidents and implementing measures to prevent unsafe acts and conditions. This includes principles of:

2. Occupational Health

Occupational health examines how various workplace hazards and risks can lead to illnesses. It underscores the importance of health programs in preventing and managing work-related and occupational diseases that makes certain the overall well-being of employees.

3. Industrial Hygiene

Industrial hygiene involves the identification, evaluation, and control of physical, chemical, biological, and ergonomic hazards in the workplace. It aims to create a safe and healthy work environment by addressing potential hazards through proactive measures.

What Do OSH Aim to Accomplish?

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Understanding the three components of OSH above, we can therefore say that OSH aims to:

  1. Promote and maintain the highest levels of physical, mental, and social well-being among employees across all industries.
  2. To focus on preventing negative health impacts caused by working conditions and making sure that the workplace is very well suited to the physical and mental needs of employees.
  3. To emphasize adapting work process that fits human capabilities, rather than forcing workers to conform to potentially harmful job requirements.

Why is OSH Important For Employees?

Why is OSH important? Depending on the person you asked, you will get different answers. But if you think about it more deeply, OSH exists because of the following reasons:

1. Ethical Responsibility

We say that this is number one because employers have a moral obligation to protect employees from accidents and illnesses while earning profit. And workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace. Ensuring your well-being as a worker is a fundamental ethical responsibility.

2. Economic Benefits

If you think OSH as something about safety and health alone, you are not thinking deeply enough. The economic benefits are the side effects of the implementation of OSH in a workplace. So, how does a company and employees benefit economically?

A. Reduces Financial Costs

Initially, it is true that employers have to pay for the OSH training of their employees and provide them with all the necessary protection like PPEs. Yes, this is an initial investment and admittedly, a considerable amount of money. However, implementing effective OSH measures can significantly reduce the costs associated with workplace accidents, including medical expenses, compensation claims, and lost working hours.

When you add all of these factors together, the result is a significant number of penalties against employers who have not adhered to OSH standards, rules, and regulations. And also, it places a significant psychological burden on them.

B. Enhances Productivity and Efficiency

While this is not so obvious reason, healthy and safe working conditions contribute to higher productivity and efficiency. Because when employees feel secure and are free from health risks, they are more motivated and perform at their best. Nobody wants to work in place where they feel like one of their feet is already in the grave.

C. Business Sustainability

Another not so obvious reason is the business sustainability. Preventing accidents and illnesses helps maintain consistent productivity and can prevent severe financial losses that might otherwise threaten the survival of a business. 

3. It's a Legal Compliance

Workplaces in the Philippines are still experiencing a high number of accidents and other health related issues. A law for keeping workers safe has to be made to stand between them and the employers. 

Adhering to OSH standards and regulations, such as those mandated by R.A. 11058 and it IRR D.O. 198-18, ensures that businesses operate within the boundaries of the law. Compliance to these laws help build a culture of safety.

On the other hand, employers violating OSH laws can face penalties and work stoppage orders issued by DOLE. Compliance with these laws is a critical aspect of business operations. 

4. Protects Employees' Safety and Health

The OSH Standards are all about protecting you, the employees. It ensures that employees have a safe working environment that helps prevent injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. It safeguards employees’ well-being while promoting a healthier workforce. It is every employee’s health and safety assurance.

5. Promotes a Positive Workplace Culture

A strong focus on OSH creates a positive work environment where employees feel valued and protected, leading to higher job satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and a better overall workplace atmosphere.

What is the Current State of OSH in the Philippines?

Unsafe Acts and Unsafe Conditions

Let’s take some data from the Philippine Statistics Authority to demonstrate to you the importance of OSH or Occupational Safety and Health and to put it into perspective. 

Here’s the summary of the report. This is not the complete report but you will understand why the implementation of OSH is important. Here are our analysis:
  • The manufacturing sector has the highest number of total incidents and incidents with workdays lost.
  • Construction and Wholesale/Retail Trade sectors also show high incident rates, particularly with workdays lost.
  • Service sectors like Financial and Insurance Activities and Administrative and Support Services have high rates of temporary incapacities.
  • Agriculture has fewer incidents compared to other sectors but still significant enough to warrant attention.
  • Fatal incidents, while relatively low in number, are spread across multiple sectors, highlighting the pervasive risk in various industries.

Cases of Occupational Injuries in Establishments Employing 20 or More Workers by Major Industry Group

All Industries27,636
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Industry1,894
Mining and Quarrying204
Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning Supply475
Water Supply; Sewerage, Waste Management and Remediation Activities224
Wholesale and Retail Trade; Repair of Motor Vehicles and Motorcycles2,280
Transportation and Storage759
Accommodation and Food Service Activities1,418
Information and Communication172
Financial and Insurance Activities697
Real Estate Activities263
Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities100
Administrative and Support Service Activities1,837
Education Except Public Education551
Human Health and Social Work Activities Except Public Health Activities654
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation384
Other Services Activities Except Activities of Membership Organizations52
Source of data: Philippine Statistics Authority, 2021/2022 Integrated Survey on Labor and Employment (ISLE).

The data above shows the significance of OSH. Imagine yourself or your colleagues without OSH in place – you would not be protected. Employers could take advantage of this and avoid accountability. So, whenever you are in a situation where your safety and health is at risk, utilize it, as it is there to aid you.

What is the Legal Basis of the OSH in the Philippines?

The establishment of the OSH in the Philippines was based on Republic Act No. 11058 or the Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof. 

Overview of RA 11058

RA 11058 is a legislation that aims to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for all employees. This Act mandates employers to comply with OSH standards and provides strict penalties for any violations. It emphasizes the responsibility of employers to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses by adhering to the prescribed safety measures.

What are the objectives of RA 11058?

Please note that this is only a summary of R.A. 11058. Read the full details of Republic Act No. 1158 here.

1. To ensure safe workplaces

To guarantee that all workplaces are free from hazards that may cause harm to workers, thereby promoting the overall health and safety of employees.

2. To promote compliance

To encourage and enforce compliance with established OSH standards, ensuring that employers implement necessary safety measures.

3. To protect workers' rights

To uphold Filipino workers’ rights to a safe working environment and access to OSH information and training.

4. To implement penalties

To provide a clear framework for penalties and sanctions for employers who fail to comply with OSH standards, thereby ensuring accountability.

What are the Critical Provisions of RA 11058 that You Need to Understand Now?

The following provisions of RA 11058 are what we believe are the critical provisions of this law. These provisions aim to collectively develop a culture of safety in the workplace and ensure that employers and employees alike contribute to maintaining a healthy and secure work environment.

1. Duties of employers and workers

Employers are required to provide a safe working environment, make certain the use of protective equipment, and conduct regular safety trainings. On the other hand, workers are expected to follow safety protocols and report hazards.

2. OSH Standard Compliance

The Act mandates compliance with all occupational safety and health standards as defined by relevant authorities that, in turn, ensure a systematic approach to workplace safety.

3. OSH Personnel and Committee

Establishment of OSH personnel and committees within workplaces to oversee and implement safety programs and policies.

4. Penalties for Non-Compliance

Employers who fail to comply with the OSH standards can face penalties, including fines and potential work stoppage orders. RA 11058 sets specific penalties for various violations to make sure strict adherence to this law.

5. Worker's Rights and Remedies

Employees have the right to refuse unsafe work without threat of retaliation and to be informed about hazards in their workplace. You as, as an employee, have access to medical and exposure records related to OSH. 

REMEMBER THIS: The OSH was established to protect you as an employee. You have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. However, you also have a responsibility, along with employers, to follow all the safety rules and regulations outlined in the OSH standard because ensuring your safety and health at work is a mutual effort.

What is DO 198-18?

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The DO 198-18 from the Department of Labor and Employment is the Implementing Rules and Regulations or IRR of RA 11058 al known as “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof“.

It is a policy declaration affirming labor as a critical social and economic force. It mandates a safe and healthy work environment for all workers, enforcing compliance with the Labor Code and International Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) standards.

DO 198-18 applies to all workplaces across various economic sectors, including those in special economic zones, transportation utilities, and high-risk industries like mining and construction. It excludes public sector entities such as national government and state universities.

DOLE DO 198-18 was established to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for all employees in the Philippines.

Major Provisions Of DO 198-18

We have previously published excellent resources about DO 198-18. Please follow the links to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does OSH stand for?

OSH stands for Occupational Safety and Health, focusing on workplace safety and employee well-being.

2. What are the main components of OSH?

The main components are Occupational Safety, Occupational Health, and Industrial Hygiene.

3. Why is OSH important for businesses?

OSH ensures legal compliance, enhances productivity, and protects employees’ safety and health.

4. What is RA 11058 in relation to OSH?

RA 11058 is a Philippine law that strengthens compliance with OSH standards and imposes penalties for violations.

5. How does OSH benefit employees?

OSH promotes a safe work environment, prevents injuries and illnesses, and fosters a positive workplace culture.

6. What are the penalties for non-compliance with OSH standards?

Penalties include fines, work stoppage orders, and potential legal consequences for employers.

7. How does OSH contribute to workplace culture?

OSH promotes a culture of safety, leading to higher job satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and improved overall morale among employees.

In Summary: What is OSH? Importance. Legal Basis, and Current State in the Philippines

OSH prioritizes workers’ safety, health, and welfare. In the Philippines, it includes regulations and policies to prevent workplace accidents, ensure safe working conditions, and manage hazards. The three main OSH components are Occupational Safety, Occupational Health, and Industrial Hygiene, which address accident prevention, workplace hazards causing illnesses, and managing hazards to create a safer work environment.

OSH promotes employees’ overall well-being by preventing adverse health effects and ensuring workplace adaptation to human needs. Employers are ethically responsible for protecting their staff, reducing costs, complying with laws, and fostering a positive workplace culture.

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