SAFETY first. This is the usual sign you read in building construction sites. But, 60 to 70 percent of contractors in the Philippines are not really compliant to the occupational and safety standards required by law.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11058 in August of 2018 which strengthened occupational and safety standards and provided additional penalties to all violators.

The implementing agency is the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole).

The act provided several provisions on the rights and responsibilities of the owner, contractors, workers and employees.

But the most important feature of the law is the requirement for every construction site to have a safety officer and a safety health personnel on site. This is to ensure that all safety and health standards are strictly followed and observed.

This is seldom practiced in Pampanga. Should Dole conduct a surprise visit to many construction sites in the province, I guess most of the contractors will end up paying penalties in millions or worse, the project will get a work stoppage order.

I was given the opportunity of working with LBY Construction Inc., a contractor at the 60-storey condominium in Makati City, The Rise. The Rise is located along Yakal St., just at the back of the Makati Fire Department.

In a few weeks, I have learned a lot about safety policies and how major players in the construction industry religiously follow RA 11058.

For one, before anyone can work at the site, all workers and employees are required to attend a whole-day safety standard seminar conducted by the safety manager of the general contractor.

The general contractor for this building is Millennium Erectors Corporation (MEC). This company is totally compliant with the safety policies, making sure that all men and women working within the area are safe from harm and accidents. Everyone wears the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

I am truly impressed by the way they conduct day-to-day operations at The Rise. The building is now on its finishing stage and according to MEC’s safety officer, in the five years of construction, there were no casualties so far.

In a high-rise building such as this one, most often than not, major accidents happen. Remember 2010? Eton Centris in Quezon City lost 11 workers after they fell off from an electric gondola. All died a few minutes after riding an electric gondola used for exterior painting.

Standard safety measure for electric lifts: maximum of three persons only. But since they were in a hurry to get down, all 11 rode the gondola.

In Pampanga, we have another project under a local contractor and this contractor seems to be ignoramus about RA 11058. Or do they just intentionally ignore or violate the law? No PPEs, no safety program, no safety committee, no safety officer, no safety signages whatever. Oh my, I just hope that nobody gets hurt in the duration of the construction.

The penalty for every violation under the law is P30,000 to P40,000 per violation, per day. If this project reaches the attention of DOLE, I am sure that the contractor will lose profits.

I hope this bit of information will reach the ears of the Pampanga Constructors Association. I remember that Board Member Dinan Labung used to be their president. I hope they will find time to remind the members to strictly follow the law and observe safety and health policies at their construction sites.