The Occupational Safety and Health Standards (OSH Standards), as amended in 1989 serves as the country’s central legislation in promoting a safe and healthy workplace for all working people by protecting them against all hazards in their work environment. On August 17, 2018 the OSH Law was updated though Republic Act No. 11058, An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations Thereof. Its corresponding Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) was published on December 7, 2018 through Department Order No. 198. The regulations or areas covered by 1989 OSH which have not been revised by R.A. No. 11058 still applies. In order to promote the safety and health of workers, the policies and programs implemented aim to be dynamic, inclusive, and gender-sensitive.
The Act applies to all establishments, projects, sites, and other places where work is being undertaken. This includes establishments located inside special economic zones; utilities engaged in air, sea, and land transportation; the mining, fishing, construction, agriculture, and maritime industries, among others; and contractors and subcontractors engaged in projects of the public sector. However, the OSH standards do not apply to the public sector as they have their own set of rules and regulations issued by the Civil Service Commission and other government agencies.
Institutional Structures and Mechanisms
To effectively implement the OSH standards, the Secretary of Labor and Employment has the authority to conduct annual spot audits to check for compliance. No person or entity shall obstruct, impede, or delay the orders of the Secretary of Labor and Employment or their representatives. The Secretary may also order the stoppage of work or suspension of operations of any unit of an establishment when non-compliance with the law or IRR poses grave and imminent danger to the health and safety of workers in the workplace.
Duties and Rights of Employers and Workers
Duties of Employers
- Provide a place of employment for workers which is free from hazardous conditions that are causing or are likely to cause death, illness, or physical harm to the workers.
- Provide complete job safety instruction and proper orientation to all workers, including those relating to familiarization with their work environment.
- Ensure that chemical, physical, and biological substances and agents and ergonomic and psychosocial stressors do not pose a risk to health.
- Use only approved specific industry set of standards of devices and equipment for the workplace.
- Comply with OSH standards: training, medical examination, provisions on protective and safety devices (e.g. PPE and machine guards). Training for workers includes health promotion, hazards associated with their work, health risks involved or to which they are exposed to, preventive measures to eliminate or minimize risks, steps to be taken in cases of emergency, and safety instruction for the jobs, activities, and tasks to be handled by workers.
- Involve workers in the process of organizing, planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the OSH management system.
- Provide for trainings and drills, evacuation plans, etc., to deal with emergencies, fires, and accidents including first-aid arrangements.
- Comply with all reportorial requirements of the OSH standards.
- Register establishment to DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment).
- Install safety signage and devices in prominent positions and strategic locations, in a language understandable to all, and in accordance with OSH standards on sign colors, to warn workers and the public of hazards in the workplace
- Have workers undergo appropriate training and certification as a requirement before the use of heavy duty equipment.
- Is liable for complying with OSH standards, including the penalties imposed for violations.
- In the case of a stoppage of work due to imminent danger as a result of the employer’s fault, the affected workers must still be paid their corresponding wages during the period of suspension of operations.
Duties of Workers
- Participate in capacity building activities on safety and health.
- Undergo the mandatory workers’ OSH seminar.
- Proper use of all safeguards and safety devices provided for workers’ protection.
- Comply with instructions to prevent accidents or imminent danger situations in the workplace.
- Observe prescribed steps to be taken in cases of emergency (i.e. participating during the conduct of national or local disaster drills.
- Report to their immediate supervisor or any other responsible safety and health personnel any work hazard that may be discovered in the workplace.
- File claims for compensation benefits due to work-related disability or death.
Rights of Workers
- Right to Know – All workers shall be appropriately informed by the employer about all types of hazards in the workplace, and be provided access to training, education, and orientation on safety and risks.
- Right to Refuse Unsafe Work – The worker has the right to refuse work without threat or reprisal from the employer if an imminent danger situation exists.
- Right to Report Accidents – Workers and their representatives shall have the right to report accidents, dangerous occurrences, and hazards to the employer, to DOLE, and other concerned government agencies. They shall be free from any form of retaliation for reporting an accident.
- Right to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Employers shall provide workers PPE for any part of the body that may be exposed to hazards; a lifeline, safety belt, or harness; and respirators, masks, or shields when necessary. This should be free of charge.
- OSH Program – Workplaces covered by the OSH Standards must implement a suitable OSH Program depending on its size and level of risk. This program should be communicated and be made readily available to all persons in the workplace. Likewise, the establishment should also submit a copy of their OSH program to the DOLE Regional, Provincial, Field, or Satellite Office having jurisdiction over them.
Table 1. Inclusions of OSH Program
|Establishment category||Inclusions of the program|
|Less than ten (10) workers and low risk establishments with ten (10) to fifty (50) workers||
|Medium to high risk establishments with ten (10) to fifty (50) and low to high risk establishments with fifty-one (51) workers and above||In addition to everything required above,
- Occupational Safety and Health Committee – Tasked with observing and enforcing the safety and health program. They are to effectively plan, develop, oversee, and monitor the program’s implementation.
Table 2. OSH Committee Members
|Establishment category||Composition of Committee|
|Less than ten (10) workers and low risk establishments with ten (10) to fifty (50) workers||Chairperson: Company owner or manager
Secretary: Safety officer of the workplace
Member: At least one (1) worker, preferable a union member if organized
One of the workers of the company must undertake first aid training from the Philippine Red Cross of any DOLE recognized organization
|Medium to high risk establishments with ten (10) to fifty (50) and low to high risk establishments with fifty-one (51) workers and above||Ex-officio chairperson: Employer or representative
Secretary: Safety officer of the workplace
Ex-officio members: Certified first-aider, OH nurse, OH dentist, and OH physician, if applicable
Members: Safety officers representing the contractor or subcontractor, representative/s of workers from unions or elected workers through simple vote of majority.
|Two (2) or more establishments housed under one building or complex (i.e. malls)||Joint Coordinating Committee – composed of all the health and safety committees to plan and implement programs and activities concerning all establishments
Chairperson: Building owner or representative
Secretary: Safety officer of the building
Members: At least two safety officers from any of the establishments and at least two workers’ representatives
- Safety Officers – Oversees the overall management of the OSH program as part of the OSH committee; monitors and inspects any health or safety aspect of the operation; assists in the conduct of government inspections or accident investigations; issues Work Stoppage Order (WSO) when necessary. Safety officers must comply with the necessary training and experience requirements based on their category.
Table 3. Safety Officers OSH Training
|Category||Prescribed Training on OSH||Minimum OSH Experience|
|Safety Officer 1 (SO1)||
|Safety Officer 2 (SO2)||
|Safety Officer 3 (SO3)||
||At least two (2) years of experience in OSH|
|Safety Officer 4 (SO4)||
||Actual experience as SO3 for at least four (4) years|
The minimum classification and number of safety officers for establishments covered by OSH standards are as follows:
Table 4. Minimum classification and number of safety officers
|Number of Workers||Low Risk||Medium Risk||High Risk|
|1 to 9||One (1) SO1||One (1) SO1||One (1) SO2|
|10 to 50||One (1) SO1||One (1) SO2||One (1) SO3|
|51 to 99||One (1) SO2||One (1) SO2 and One (1) SO3|
|100 to 199||One (1) SO2 and One (1) SO3|
|200 to 250||Two (2) SO2 and One (1) SO3||Two (2) SO3|
|251 to 500||Two (2) SO3||One (1) SO2 and Two (2) SO3|
|501 to 750|
|751 to 1000||Two (2) SO3|
|Every additional 250 or fraction thereof||–||–||Additional One (1) SO3 or SO4|
|Every additional 500 or fraction thereof||Additional One (1) SO3||Additional One (1) SO3 or SO4||–|
- Occupational Health Personnel and Facilities – Establishments must have qualified occupational health personnel (i.e. first-aiders, nurses, dentists, and physicians) complemented with the required medical supplies, equipment, and facilities. All personnel must undergo mandatory orientation or training on OSH.
Table 5. Number of health personnel per workplace
|Number of Workers||Low Risk||Medium to High Risk|
|OH Nurse||OH Dentist||OH Physician||First-
|OH Nurse||OH Dentist||OH Physician|
|1 to 9||1||–||–||–||1||–||–||–|
|10 to 50||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|51 to 99||–||–||–||2 PT||–||–|
|100 to 199||2||2 PT||–||–||2||1 FT||1 PT||1 PT|
|200 to 500||3-5||1 FT||1 PT||1 PT||3-5||1 FT||1 PT||2 PT|
|501 to 2000||6-20||1 FT||1 PT||2 PT||6-20||1 FT||1 FT||2 PT or 1 FT|
|>2000||>20||1 FT per shift||1 FT||1 FT and 2 PT||>20||1 FT per shift||1 FT||1 FT and 2 PT|
|Every 100 workers or a fraction thereof||1||–||–||–||1||–||–||–|
|Every 250 workers or a fraction thereof||–||1 FT||–||–||–||1 FT||–||–|
|Every 500 workers or a fraction thereof||–||–||1 FT||1 FT or 4 PT||–||–||1 FT||1 FT or 4 PT|
- Part Time (PT) = 4h/d, 3d/w; Full Time (FT) = 8h/d, 6d/w
- OH Personnel shall be placed in the shift with the highest number of workers.
- For OH dentists: Establishments can enter into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for dental services for workers.
- For OH physicians: If more than 1 PT physician is required, a physician must be present in all world days of the establishment.
Table 6. Required training of safety and health personnel
|First-Aider||Standard first aid training|
|OH Nurse||At least forty (40)-hour Basic OSH training course for OH Nurses|
|OH Dentist||At least forty (40)-hour Basic OSH training course|
|OH Physician||At least fifty-six (56)-hour Basic OSH training course for OH Physicians|
Table 7. Medical services and facilities per workplace
|Number of Workers||Low Risk||Medium to High Risk|
|First Aid Treatment Room||Clinic (# of beds)||Hospital (# of beds)||First Aid Treatment Room||Clinic (# of beds)||Hospital (# of beds)|
|1 to 9||1||–||–||1||–||–|
|10 to 50||–||–||1||–||–|
|51 to 99||1||–||2||1||–|
|100 to 199||Additional 1 for every 100 worker or a fraction thereof||–||Additional 1 for every 50 worker or a fraction thereof||2||–|
|200 to 250||2||–||–|
|251 to 500||–||–|
|501 to 750||Additional 1 for every 200 worker or a fraction thereof||–||Additional 1 for every 100 worker or a fraction thereof||–|
|751 to 1000||–||–|
|1001 to 2000||1||1|
The willful failure or refusal to comply with the following OSH standards or with a compliance order issued by the Secretary of Labor and Employment is penalized as follows:
|Registration of establishment to DOLE||Php 20,000.00|
|Provision of job safety instruction or orientation prior to work||Php 20,000.00|
|Provision of worker’s training (first aid, mandatory worker training, mandatory OSH training for safety officers and health personnel)||Php 25,000.00|
|Provision of safety signage and devices||Php 30,000.00|
|Provision of medical supplies, equipment, and facilities||Php 30,000.00|
|Submission of reportorial requirements as prescribed by OSH standards||Php 30,000.00|
|Provision of safety officer and/or OH personnel||Php 40,000.00|
|Provision of certified personnel or professionals required by the OSH standards||Php 40,000.00|
|Establishments of a safety and health committee||Php 40,000.00|
|Formulation and implementation of a comprehensive safety and health program||Php 40,000.00|
|Provision of information on hazards and risk||Php 40,000.00|
|Provision of sanitary and welfare facilities||Php 40,000.00|
|Use of approved or certified devices and equipment for the task||Php 50,000.00|
|Provision of PPE or charging of provided PPE to workers||Php 50,000.00|
|Compliance with DOLE issued WSO||Php 50,000.00|
|Compliance to other OSH standards||Php 40,000.00|
- For the violation of the same prohibited act – penalty of the corresponding fine plus an additional fine of fifty percent (50%) thereof for every instance of repeat violation
- For the following acts, a penalty of one hundred thousand pesos (Php 100,000.00) administrative fine shall be imposed in addition to the daily administrative fine imposed above.
- Repeated obstruction, delay, or refusal to provide the Secretary of Labor and Employment access to the workplace, relevant records and documents, or conduct of investigation;
- Misrepresentation in adhering to OSH standards; knowing a report or record submitted to DOLE to be false;
- Making retaliatory measures such as termination of employment, refusal to pay, reducing wages and benefits, or in any manner against any worker who has given information relative to the inspection being conducted
- When a violation exposes the worker to death, serious injury, or serious illness, the imposable penalty is one hundred thousand pesos (Php 100,000.00)
Contributor: Marivic Arago
Brown & Green Environmental Services, Inc.