Worker's right to PPE
"My nephew was hired by a private chemical production plant early this year. Since the day he was hired, his company has been providing him and his co-workers, protective personal equipment (PPE) given the hazardous nature of their work. He said that there is a rumor going on in their workplace that their employer might no longer provide them with PPE or that they will be required to buy it. Will that be legal? If it really happens that his employer will not provide them with such equipment, can he and his co-workers refuse to perform their respective duties?Tirso
Dear Tirso,No less than our 1987 Philippine Constitution guarantees the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare of laborers. Section 18, Article II of the Constitution expressly provides:
""The State affirms labor as a primary social economic force. It shall protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare.""In line with the constitutional mandate, Republic Act (RA) 11058, the ""Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof,"" was passed. This law covers all establishments, projects, sites, including the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) establishments, and all other places where work is being undertaken in all branches of economic activity, except in the public sector. (Section 2, Id.)
As provided under RA 11058, laborers employed in hazardous work process or environment shall be given personal protective equipment which are free of charge:""Section 8. Workers' Right to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). - Every employer, contractor or subcontractor, if any, shall provide his workers, free of charge, protective equipment for their eyes, face, hands and feet, and free, and lifeline, safety belt or harness, gas or dust respirators or masks, protective shields whenever necessary by reason of the hazardous work process or environment, chemical, radiological, mechanical and other irritants or hazards capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact. The cost of the PPE shall be part of the safety and health program which is a separate pay item pursuant to Section 20 of this Act.
""All PPE shall be of the appropriate type as tested and approved by the DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) based on its standards. The usage of PPE in all establishments, projects, sites and all other places where work is being undertaken shall be based on the evaluation and recommendation of the safety officer.""Accordingly, it will be against the afore-mentioned tenet for the employer of your nephew to discontinue providing him and his workmates with the necessary protective equipment if theirs is a high-risk establishment. Their willful failure or refusal may render them liable for an administrative fine not exceeding One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) per day until the violation is corrected. (Section 28 (a), Id.)Your nephew may validly refuse to perform his duties should his employer fail to provide him with such necessary equipment. Pursuant to Section 8, Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 11058:""x x x All PPE must be of appropriate size, weight, and type to specific workers exposed to hazards from which PPE are meant to ensure effective protection. Issuance of PPE shall be supplemented by training on the application, use, handling, cleaning and maintenance of said PPE in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
""Failure to provide appropriate PPE in high-risk activities shall give rise to the right of the worker to refuse unsafe work."" (Emphasis supplied)We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.Editor's note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney's Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org"
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"Worker's right to PPE"
was written by Mary
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comments. The article was created on 16 September 2021
and updated on 16 September 2021