In a statement released today, the Department of Labor and Employment announced that :

"The mandatory occupational health and safety training in workplaces will be offered to workers and enterprises for free starting this year."

Republic Act 11058, also known as the Occupational Safety and Health Law, requires all businesses to designate and train safety officers, the number of which must correspond with the number of an enterprise's total employee population. Normally, businesses would have to pay PHP 5,500 per trainee for the safety training.

This directive was issued to the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) to ensure that all employees are adequately trained in essential health and safety measures as a means to also boost productivity as the economy gradually recovers from the adverse effects of the pandemic.

This development forms part of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello's double mission of enhancing workplace safety and easing the burden of MSMEs who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the OSH law, all businesses “are encouraged to immediately conduct mandatory Workers’ OSH seminars for all workers/employees at no cost to the workers and attendance at such seminars shall be considered compensable working time.” It likewise emphasizes that it is the duty of employers, contractors, and subcontractors to make employees fully aware of the hazards and risks involved in their jobs.

All workers are also required to attend an 8-hour OSH seminar that should also include a joint employer-employee orientation on safety and health standards.

The waiving of the OSH training fee is a truly welcome development for all MSMEs as it will ensure that they will receive the necessary training to keep their employees safe and healthy but will not have to bear the financial burden of this legal requirement. All businesses will be better able to take care of their employees and prepare them for future disaster and disruptions while also giving them a chance at being more productive.

As the economy continues to recover from the crisis, taking better care of MSMEs this way is a significant step forward.