Dole suspends construction in 2 Cebu City hospitals

CEBU. Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reportedly saw that construction workers in the Visayas Community Medical Center lacked protective gear while installing panels and standing on a sixth-floor scaffold. She passed by the site on Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City last week. (Arni Aclao)

CEBU CITY -- Citing “imminent danger situations” in the construction of the Visayas Community Medical Center (VCMC) and the Chong Hua Hospital (CHH), the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole)-Central Visayas issued an order stopping construction work in the medical facilities.

No less than Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz saw that the construction workers in the VCMC building lacked safety and protective gear while installing aluminum panels and standing on the scaffoldings on the sixth floor. Baldoz reportedly passed by the hospital on Osmeña Blvd. in Cebu City last week.



Labor laws compliance officers inspected the VCMC construction site last week and noted at least 11 violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Standards, the General Labor Standards and the Guidelines Governing Occupational Safety and Health in the Construction Industry, which was the basis for the issuance of the work-stoppage order last February 6.

The stoppage order issued by Dole-Central Visayas Director Exequiel Sarcauga was addressed to the chief executive officer of VCMC and the owner of Summit Home and Building Products Corp., the supplier and installer of the aluminum panel.

Sarcauga said the order against contractors and subcontractors of VCMC and CHH will remain in effect until they comply with the requirements.

No damage

“There is no penalty involved because there are no damages so far. But we are focused on prevention so if there is imminent danger, we will ask them to correct any deficiency. If in plain view we see that there is a violation, we can issue a work-stoppage order right away,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

He said he also passed by the VCMC construction site last week. “Not one of the workers had a full-body harness,” he said.

Sarcauga met with VCMC officials Tuesday to discuss the findings of the joint assessment of the project site, and the hospital management reportedly assured they would comply with all the requirements.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Rev. Maquias Camba Jr., VCMC’s CEO, said they already discussed with Dole what they and their contractor need to do. “Na-settle na nato. Everything is to be complied with.”

Sun.Star Cebu went to CHH to get hospital officials’ comment on the matter, but an official, through his secretary, declined to comment, saying the order has been lifted. CHH was issued a work-stoppage order last December for the same reasons as VCMC.

But Sarcauga said his order remains in effect. “They (CHH) are yet to comply with the requirements. I have not signed an order lifting the work-stoppage order,” he said.

Inspection

“As for VCMC, Rev. Camba was bent on making sure that they will comply with everything the earliest possible. They have no choice because if there are delays in the project, they will suffer losses,” said Sarcauga.

During the assessment of VCMC’s project site, Dole inspectors reportedly saw workers installing aluminum panels on the exterior wall of the second to the sixth floors of the building. They were not wearing full-body harnesses or a fall-arrest system, Dole-Central Visayas said.

Results of the assessment also showed that the monkey ladder used as scaffolding for exterior works does not have an approved structural analysis signed by a structural engineer.

The project also lacks a Dole-approved Construction Safety and Health Program and a safety officer. It does not have a Philippine Contractors’ Accreditation Board (PCAB) registration.

Sarcauga, in a Dole-Central Visayas press statement, said the inspectors also observed that there was no first aid officer, no administrative reports, no safety committee organized with the trade contractor, “and no policy or program on Drug-free Workplace, HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control, Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, and Anti-Sexual Harassment with Committee on Decorum and Investigation.”

3 cities first

The concerned establishment also could not present appropriate personal protective equipment used by the workers.

To make sure that all construction projects in the region have these requirements, Sarcauga issued Tuesday a written authority to all labor laws compliance officers to inspect all construction sites and make sure these follow health and safety standards.

Since the projects are concentrated in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu, Sarcauga said the officers will first focus on these areas.

The order takes effect and shall remain until these establishments are able to comply 100 percent with the requirements.

Last December, Dole-Central Visayas also issued stoppage orders to FLB Corporate Center Project in the Cebu Business Park, where a construction worker had fallen to his death, and the SM Hypermart construction project in the Mactan Export Zone 2 in Lapu-Lapu City for the same offenses.

The orders issued to both projects have been lifted after their contractors complied with the occupational health and safety standards. (Sun.Star Cebu)
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