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Campaign for citizen journalism among workers to uphold health and safety launched

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“Every worker is an occupational health and safety reporter.”  This was the main call of the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (IOHSAD) as it opened Litrato Obrero : A Photo Exhibit for Workers' Health and Safety last May 9, 2013 at the historic Plaza Miranda. The photo exhibit served as the kick-off activity for its year-long project of promoting citizen journalism among workers.

The exhibit featured photo entries submitted by workers and occupational health and safety (OHS) advocates with the theme "Obrero, ligtas ka ba sa trabaho?".  The photos reflected the unsafe conditions faced by every Filipino worker.  Health hazards in different fields such as construction, health care, shipyard building and manufacturing were seen through the eyes of the workers themselves.

"Litrato Obrero is just one of the venues to empower the workers through the photos they take and the news they make," said Noel Colina, executive director of IOHSAD. Workers being the first persons on the scene are reliable sources of news on occupational health and safety issues in the workplace.

Winning Entry

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UNTITLED
Submitted by Pentagon Workers Union

In the Philippines, most of the OHS issues remain unreported. Even government agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) and Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics recognize the need to improve the reporting and monitoring system of work-related accidents, diseases and deaths in the country.

"Transforming workers as reporters can provide a more objective and realistic view on the health and safety practices in workplaces," said Colina.

Series of trainings on citizen journalism among workers from key regions are being prepared throughout the year. IOHSAD and its partners are scheduled to conduct lectures on basic photography, news writing and social media among workers. At the end of the project, a roster of dedicated workers documenting OSH practices and exposing hazards and unsafe acts in their workplaces is expected.

IOHSAD also dedicated the photo exhibit to the hundreds of workers who died when the building which housed several garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh last April 24. Together with other groups, they also offered flowers and lit candles to commemorate the first anniversary of the Novo fire tragedy in Butuan City where 17 workers died when they were trapped inside the building.

Litrato Obrero is the first part of the 2 year project "Workers Action for Safety (Workingcast): Crowdsourcing workplace data for a safer working environment" initiated by IOHSAD. Workingcast is supported by the Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (www.APHEDA.org.au).

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The winners receiving their prize