Senator Win Gatchalian has urged the government and its contractors to ensure the safety and well-being of construction workers as the government eyes the resumption of the construction of big-ticket projects under the ‘Build, Build, Build’ flagship program of the Duterte administration.
Gatchalian made the call as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) announces that priority and essential construction work may be done in areas placed under General Community Quarantine (GCQ), in accordance with DPWH guidelines.
Gatchalian emphasized the need for the government to find a way of implementing these construction projects while maintaining a high level of safety measures for workers. The lawmaker likewise called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to issue guidelines that will provide direction to employers and workers in ensuring a safe environment in construction sites under dire circumstances.
According to Gatchalian, the guidelines should include the observance of social distancing in the construction area by clearly delineating spaces, staggering time schedule, and/or reducing the number of workers in specific working sites.
Contractors should also provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers and they should minimize the use of shared tools in order to ensure their safety, according to Gatchalian, adding that when these workers get back to work, they should be properly trained because this time around they will be doing construction work using PPE or a new of set safety tools and equipment.
The senator said that construction workers, even engineers, and safety officers should be provided sanitized accommodation near their project sites. He also emphasized the need for safety officers to enforce DOLE’s occupational safety guidelines given the new normal situation.
Gatchalian himself has seen the plight of several workers in construction sites while distributing relief packages during the early stages of the implementation of the Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ).
“Sa ating paglilibot-libot habang nagbibigay ng tulong sa mg tao, nakita ko ang kawawang kalagayan ng mga construction workers. Karamihan sa kanila ay na-stranded, hindi makauwi sa bahay nila dahil naka-lockdown at walang masakyan. Higit pa diyan, wala silang makain sa mga construction sites. Nananawagan ako sa mga construction companies at mga contractors na huwag naman natin silang pabayaan,” Gatchalian said.
“Our skilled workers are our country’s best asset. They are the backbone of the country’s strong and resilient economy. Aside from providing them jobs at this time, let’s not forget about their well-being and by issuing clear guidelines on a safe working environment, we will be able to ensure their safety. Tandaan natin na nakapaloob pa rin ito sa layunin nating maiwasang ikalat ang virus at dumami pa ang bilang ng mga namamatay,” he empasized.
Gatchalian, who is Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, recognizes the importance of slowly opening economic activities to jump start the country’s economy which is reeling from the ill effects of the pandemic.