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A day of mourning as workers,NGO's and artist commemorate Workers Memorial Day

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graffiti wall

“The workplace remains a very dangerous environment for workers as the year 2009 registered 331 work-related deaths, with 427 workers injured in the same period.” This was the statement made today by Noel Colina, Executive Director of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD), a non-stock, non-profit, non-governmental organizations promoting occupational health and safety in the Philippines since 1987, as the world commemorates Workers Memorial Day. The figures came from aggregated data collected from 8 national dailies and tabloids in print and online, with formal and informal work not distinguished.

“In Cebu, this month alone saw 2 consecutive accidents in the construction sector claiming the lives of 5 workers and injuring 8 more. Incremental changes in safety inside workplaces, like requiring all workers to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), will not be enough. There must be a radical improvement, both in safety planning and actual implementation of the procedures, combined with stiffer penalties to those erring companies,” added Colina.

Colina said that his organization is calling all candidates to adopt and create a clear platform promoting occupational health and safety. The IOHSAD proposes 4 points for the next government and Congress to tackle and pass:

1)Increase the budget for workplace inspection to improve inspection coverage and revoke the DoLE D.O. 57-04 implementing self-assessment and return to mandatory inspection

2)Immediately pass the bill banning the use of all asbestos in the Philippines

3)Require companies to re-absorb their injured workers as soon as they become fit

4)Legislate Industrial Manslaughter

Today also saw IOHSAD formally unveiling the project “Paint the Town Red”, massive 3-storey high, 50-foot wide graffiti piece located at R. Duterte Street, Banawa, Cebu City to commemorate April 28, 2010 Workers Memorial Day. The graffiti piece highlighted the theme “Unions Make Work Safer”, the theme for this years Workers Memorial Day commemoration and the call to “Ban Asbestos Now”. At 6 p.m. today, a more solemn candle lighting and wreath laying ceremonies, dedicated to all those who died due to their work, followed the unveiling of the graffiti piece and was participated by workers and artists from Cebu.

The graffiti piece was created by the Cebu-based UBEC Crew with support from the Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (APHEDA), Asia Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) and the Cebu-based Visayas Human Development Agency, Inc. (ViHDA). ###

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