CITY OF MALOLOS – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday commenced its safety awareness training for some 130 pyrotechnic companies and their workers from different parts of Bulacan province.
This undertaking comes after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III issued a Work Stoppage Order (WSO) on November 24 on all establishments engaging in manufacturing and selling of firecrackers and pyrotechnics.
The WSO was issued in light of two fireworks explosions—one on October 12 in Bocaue killing two, wounding 24 others and another on November 23 in Sta. Maria killing three and wounding six others.
The DOLE partnered with the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), Bureau of Working Condition (BWCs), Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs), and Local Government Units (LGUs) for the training.
OSHC-accredited safety and health practitioners from the pyrotechnic industries were tapped as resource speakers using various occupational safety and health modules, particularly, the handling and management of explosive materials.
Also present to extend their technical assistance and likewise witness the training are the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).
The one-day safety awareness training will be done by batches and will last up to four days due to the significant number of establishments and workers covered.
DOLE Regional Director Ana Dione reported to Bello that owners and workers of 130 pyrotechnic establishments—40 manufacturing and 90 retailers/distributors—from 24 municipalities will be covered.
Dione, who graced the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) meeting chaired by the Provincial Government of Bulacan, explained the DOLE’s Action Plan relative to the WSO.
“To our stakeholders, we want you to understand that we simply cannot lift this WSO until such time that all of you who are engaged in manufacturing, distributing, or selling firecrackers and other forms of pyrotechnics, have complied with the DOLE’s general labor standards and occupational safety and health standards, and other equally important compliances to the PNP’s R.A. 7183 and the BFP’s Fire Safety Permit,” Dione said.
“This is why we urge you to undergo this Safety Awareness Training, which is a must-needed requirement of the DOLE, along with other permits you need to secure with the PNP and the BFP, in order for us to allow you to resume your operations based upon our recommendation to our Labor Secretary for the lifting of the WSO if you have already fulfilled them,” she added.
Bulacan Governor Wilhemino Sy-Alvarado, who presided over the meeting, also urged the full cooperation of the pyrotechnic industry to do their part to ensure the safety of their workers.
“We are appealing to our stakeholders from the pyrotechnic industry to be fully cooperative in government’s efforts to provide you with our developmental intervention and assistance at the wake of this seeking the lifting the WSO from our labor secretary. We understand that this industry employs thousands of workers which feed many families,” Sy-Alvarado said.
“That is why we need your support and cooperation so that we can improve this industry that our province is known for. I believe that your presence here signifies your intent to fully comply with government regulations to ensure that the incidents that happened in Bocaue and Sta. Maria will never ever happen again because safety is our primary concern,” he furthered.
Representatives of the pyrotechnic industries, who raised a few issues and concerns regarding the pending resumption of their operations, expressed their full cooperation in complying with the WSO.
Dione assured all concerned stakeholders that the DOLE regional office will recommend the lifting of the WSO for establishments which have fully complied with the WSO.
Sy-Alvarado was accompanied by Provincial PESO Manager Elizabeth Alonzo as well as officials and members of various pyrotechnic associations in the PPOC meeting.
BFP Provincial Director PSSupt. Romeo Caramat, DILG Provincial Director Darwin David, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Provincial Head Christian De Honor, and other PPOC-member agencies were also in full force.
For the DOLE’s part, Dione was joined by Assistant Regional Director Geraldine Panlilio, OSHC Director Dr. Teresita Cucueco, OSHC Deputy Director Jomar Batino, BWC’s Engr. Nick Bon, and DOLE-Bulacan Field Office head May Lynn Gozun.
All 26 Labor Laws Compliance Officers (LLCOs) from the DOLE regional office who were tasked to facilitate the training were also present to be recognized by the body.
The training on Thursday and the succeeding days, including the November 30 holiday, will hopefully be concluded by December 2, Friday.
The PESO will be profiling all workers for possible livelihood intervention in the event that their employers may not be yet able to comply for a long period of time.
The DOLE regional office will continuously work in close coordination with the Provincial Government of Bulacan, PNP, and BFP throughout the phase of the conduct of this training. (Jerry Borja/DOLE-3 LCO)