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Lost workdays from on-the-job injuries rise in 2015, PSA says

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a worker with a disability (L), assembles electronic parts of a solar lantern at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority headquarters. -- AFP

By Jochebed B. Gonzales,
Senior Researcher

WORKDAYS lost from occupational injuries rose sharply in 2015 even though the rate of injury declined, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported, citing the results of a survey.

The PSA said the average number of workdays lost due to temporary incapacity cases doubled to 11.17 days in 2015 from 5.42 in 2013.

The information and communications industry led all sectors in lost workdays at 41.45 days followed by electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply (22.34); administrative and support service activities (18.36); human health and social work activities except public health activities (18.14); and private education (16.85).

Managing to reduce their lost workday averages were mining and quarrying to 12.84 from 14.53; and financial and insurance to 12.92 from 19.04.

The rise in lost workdays was accompanied by a decline in the injury rate. The PSA said that in 2015, the rate of injury was 4.74 per thousand employees, down from 4.91 in 2013.

Non-fatal cases made up 4.65 of the total while fatal cases accounted for 0.09.

Cases of temporary incapacity — in which a worker was able to perform normal duties in less than a year, or whose reason for changing jobs was not related to the inability to perform the same task at the time of the incident — amounted to 4.56 per thousand in 2015 from 4.8 in 2013.

The number of workplace injuries per million work hours in 2015 fell to 1.94 in 2015 from 2.03 in 2013.

In 2015, 1.91 of these were non-fatal cases and 0.03 were fatal.

“This translates to around two cases of occupational injuries with workdays lost per 1,000,000 employee-hours of exposure in both survey years,” the PSA reported.

Four out of 18 industry groups came in higher than the 4.74 industry average for rates of injury per thousand employees in 2015. These were manufacturing (10.72); agriculture, forestry and fishing (8.92), construction (8.75); and electricity, gas, steam and air-conditioning supply (7.62).

Asked to comment on the PSA’s findings, Associated Labor Unions — Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) spokesperson Alan A. Tanjusay said large companies generally have good safety records.

“Our problem is the small companies who are not members of groups like ECOP (Employers Confederation of the Philippines) and PCCI (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry). There are many of them,” he said.

Mr. Tanjusay added that the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) calls for voluntary compliance, to the detriment of workers.

“They are only compliant with safety rules if they know that there will be inspections to be conducted by DoLE. The system is voluntary compliance, which means that on your own, motu proprio [of one’s own accord], you comply with the occupational safety and health standards required by the government.”

“Others comply on paper only and not in reality. There is no genuine compliance.”

ECOP President Donald G. Dee concurred: “Established companies are all compliant. The problem is the smaller companies. We try to make them compliant.”

ALU-TUCP’s Mr. Tanjusay noted that while standards set by the government, labor and employer groups are updated, enforcement and compliance remain a challenge.

“On the part of the government, they should put more labor inspectors in the field which means they have to increase the budget for the labor inspection aspect of the DoLE,” Mr. Tanjusay said.

“As of now, there are almost one million establishments in the country but the number of labor inspectors is only around 550.”