Health is Wealth
The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) recently issued guidelines to address safety and health issues faced by workers who, by the nature of their work, have to stand or sit for long periods. The DOLE noted that the wearing of high heeled shoes and/or standing at work for long periods or even frequent walking lead to health issues such as strain on the lower limbs, aching muscles, hazardous pressure on the hip, knee and ankle joints and sore feet. Sedentary work or sitting while working for long periods, on the other hand, bring about musculoskeletal disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, diabetes and obesity, among other health concerns.
Employers are therefore required to institute appropriate control measures to address the risks to the safety and health of workers. Employers whose workers spend their working time standing or frequently walking, should provide rest periods to cut the time spent standing or walking. Employers should also install appropriate flooring or mats, such as wood or rubber floorings, to mitigate the impact of frequent walking and to prevent fatigue. The DOLE likewise implemented a ban on high heels, directing employers to instead require the use of practical and comfortable footwear. The DOLE’s guidelines require that the footwear should either be flat or with low heels (no higher than one inch) and wide-based or wedge type.
Sedentary workers, on the other hand, must be provided with regular five-minute breaks every two hours. Employers should also organize health promotion activities that will allow workers to do more physical activities after work, such as calisthenics, dance lessons and other similar activities. Medical surveillance should also be conducted, including raising awareness on health effects of prolonged sitting and sedentary work, especially among workers who are at risk because of their work lifestyle.
Employers may also adopt other measures, in consultation with the workers, to address the occupational safety and health concerns of their workers. Covered employers or establishments are required to notify the DOLE of their adoption of the foregoing safety and health measures.
The issuances demonstrate the DOLE’s commitment to set and enforce mandatory occupational safety and health standards in all workplaces to reduce health risks and ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers in all places of employment. Thus, businesses must not only focus on generating wealth but must also ensure that the workers who assist in, and contribute to, the generation of wealth will do so in a safe and healthy work environment.
Download the full ALB December 2017 Issue from the ALB website. The regional update “Health is Wealth” is on page 12.
Russel L. Rodriguez specializes in civil and commercial litigation. He has handled and tried a broad range of cases involving contract disputes, corporate restructuring and rehabilitation, infrastructure and engineering disputes, intra-corporate controversies, labor disputes and insurance claims. He also has extensive experience in immigration and deportation cases, insurance law, labor and employment law, and criminal litigation, both as a private prosecutor and as defense counsel.
Joanna Marie O. Joson has worked in several labor-litigation cases for business process outsourcing, maritime and manufacturing companies involving illegal dismissal, certification election, and money claims. She has also rendered advice on employment issues in corporate reorganizations.
ALB’s December 2017 issue also contains the coverage of the ALB Philippine Law Awards 2017 in which the firm received the Philippine Law Firm of the Year, Arbitration Law Firm of the Year, Banking and Financial Services Law Firm, and Construction and Real Estate Law Firm of the Year. SyCipLaw partner Emmanuel M. Lombos was also named Dispute Resolution Lawyer of the Year. The coverage is on page 36.
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