THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in Negros Occidental will inspect starting on Monday manufacturers and retailers of pyrotechnics and firecrackers to see if they comply with the occupational safety and health standards.
Dole-Negros Occidental head Cyril Ticao, also the officer-in-charge regional director of the agency in Negros Island Region, on Sunday told SunStar Bacolod the inspection will be immediately conducted upon distribution copies of work stoppage order (WSO) issued by the Dole Central Office.
Last Thursday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued the said order to all establishments engaged in the manufacture and sale of pyrotechnics and firecrackers nationwide, following the recent explosions in fireworks shops in Bulacan that killed five people and injured 30 others.
The order mainly mandated the stoppage of work of any unit, department or entire operation of an establishment when non-compliance with occupational safety and health standards poses imminent danger to the health and safety of the employees in the workplace.
Ticao said that aside from the local government units (LGUs) where manufacturers and retailers operate, they will also coordinate with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for strict implementation of the order.
“We will check the compliance of the local establishments with the safety and health standards which will serve as basis for the agency to lift or not the work stoppage order,” Ticao said.
Dole-Negros Occidental targets to submit the report to Bello within the week, he said, adding that “pending the final decision of the Secretary, there should be no manufacture and sale of these products in the province."
Records of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) showed that currently there are only two Philippine Standards (PS) licensed manufacturers of pyrotechnics and firecrackers in the province.
These are the MD Fireworks in Hinigaran town and Madz Pyrotechnics in Barangay Vista Alegre, Bacolod City.
Dole-Negros Occidental said they have yet to coordinate with PNP as to the number of legitimate retailers in the province.
It can be recalled that two people were killed and 24 others were injured when an explosion occurred in a group of fireworks shops in Barangay 1st, Bocaue, Bulacan last October 12.
Another fireworks shop explosion happened over a week ago in Sitio Bangka-Bangkaan, Barangay Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, killing three people and wounded six others in an explosion at AA Firecrackers Manufacturing.
In view of the aforementioned accidents and with the projected increase in production during the holidays, Dole said it is inclined to declare the existence of grave and imminent danger to the health and safety of workers in workplaces involved in the production of pyrotechnics and firecrackers.
On the heels of the WSO issued by the Dole, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is calling on the firecracker/pyrotechnics industry to take the opportunity to modernize.
In an interview, TUCP Spokesman Alan Tanjusay said they are hoping that the WSO will bear fruit by resulting to a more modern and safer workplace for its employees.
“It is high time for the industry players to reflect on developing the pyrotechnic industry towards developing for modernization so that it will grow, flourish, and become safer just like in other countries,” said Tanjusay.
He said having a modernized industry would result to better business, which will lead to more job opportunities.
“Siguradong lalago ang industriya ng firecrackers at maraming trabaho ang magagawa,” said Tanjusay.
The labor group, then, made a similar call to the government, specifically the local government unit, Dole, and law enforcers to make sure that industry players will be toeing the line.
“There is a need to consistently enforce the law to prevent explosions. If only the enforcement of labor standards are consistent, then accidents will be avoided, wherein the workers are at the losing end and being sacrificed,” said Tanjusay.
Last week, the Dole issued a WSO for all establishments engaged in the manufacture and sale of pyrotechnics and firecrackers.
The order is expected to affect thousands of workers in the industry, especially with the New Year celebration, when the sales of pyrotechnics and firecrackers are at its peak, just over a month away.
Dole may lift the order on compliant establishments once they are able to pass the compliance assessment of their field officials. (With reports from Sunnex)