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Construction worker dies at SMDC condominium site; Safety NGO calls for work-stoppage, justice for victim

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Alvin Espiritu, 37 years old, from Calumpit, Bulacan died yesterday morning, April 24, 2012, when a temporary elevator at the Sun Residences project site at España Boulevard corner Mayon Street, Quezon City struck him. Espiritu was rushed to the United Doctors Medical Center just across the worksite, but did not survive the fall from the 15th floor of the 40-storey condominium. He was working at SM Development Corporation project site under Frey-Fil Corporation, a sub-contractor, and is survived by his wife and 5 children.

“We are mourning with the family and survivors of Alvin Espiritu, as another life is taken by dangerous work,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD), a non-profit, non-governmental health and safety organization based in Manila. “According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), work remains the top killer of workers.”

Colina also calls for a work-stoppage at the SMDC worksite, which is the standard operating procedure (SOP), without prejudice to the salaries of the employees. “The authorities should stop all work at the Sun Residences pending a comprehensive, independent and impartial investigation of the death of Mr. Espiritu. The Rule 1012.02 (2) or Abatement of Imminent Danger of the Philippine Occupational Health and Safety Standards (OHSS) provides: the Regional Director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) the issuance of an Order for stoppage of operation or other action for the abatement of the danger. By adhering to this SOP, the government inspectors can address potential harm to the other workers.”

As stated by the Rule 1013.b of the OHSS work in the construction sector deemed as hazardous. “Thus the need for greater vigilance and special attention to keep the site safe for the workers and the conducting the regular run-of-the-mill inspection will not suffice,” opined Colina. “The DoLE Order 57-2004 (D.O. 57-04), allowing workplaces with more than 200 workers to do self-assessment on adherence to labor laws, cannot mitigate risks in the construction sites, as it provides a massive window of abuse by erring companies.”

The D.O. 57-04 also dispenses the legal stamps for non-inspection and non-regulation of dangerous enterprises,” added Colina. “Unfortunately, this has been confirmed by the blood of many workers, including the ETON Residences victims and shipbuilders of Hanjin and Keppel in Subic and recently, by the life of Mr. Espiritu.”

“The world on April 28, 2012 will be commemorating Workers Memorial Day, a day for remembering those who died due to work. On this day, we will continue our vow to fight for the lives of all workers and press the government and the employers to provide a healthy and safe working environment.”