27 August 2008

Hanjin workers to get mandatory safety training

Construction workers employed at the shipyard here of Hanin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines (HHIC-Phil) will undergo a mandatory safety orientation course starting next week to help address safety concerns at the $1.6-billion shipbuilding facility.

The training was required by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), which have both expressed alarm over the number of fatal accidents at the shipyard since 2007.

“This will be a basic safety orientation course for construction workers, including safety officers, employed by both Hanjin and its subcontractors,” said SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza.

“Everyday, starting September 1, there will be 120 shipyard workers attending the safety course,” he added.

The safety appreciation courses, which will be conducted by the DOLE’s Occupational Safety and Health Center, will cover five topics each day.

The primary target audience for the courses are safety officers employed by Hanjin and its subcontractors. These key personnel are then expected to echo the topics discussed among employees belonging to their respective work units.

Arreza explained that the safety orientation course was deemed necessary because investigations of the 15 fatal accidents in the shipyard indicated some safety lapses committed by workers themselves, aside from those by subcontracting firms.

“There were cases when workers refused to wear hard hats because they found it uncomfortable. So we have to really inculcate a culture of safety among the workers, too,” he said.

Aside from the courses set for next week, health and safety personnel from the DOLE and the SBMA have also conducted trainings at the Hanjin shipyard recently, according to the SBMA Occupational Health and Safety Office.

One of these safety courses was conducted on August 21 by the DOLE’s Bureau of Working Conditions and the Association of Safety Practitioners, Inc., a private safety group.

A five-day construction safety training is also being conducted by a DOLE team since Tuesday, with 58 participants from Hanjin and subcontracting firms.

Arreza also said that as part of the SBMA’s action plan to foster safety at the Hanjin shipyard, the agency will set up an office at the site, to be manned by occupational health and safety personnel as well as employees from the SBMA Labor Department.

“We (the SBMA) want to establish a strong presence at the shipyard, so we can enforce adequate control,” Arreza said.

At the same time, Arreza gave the assurance that Hanjin subcontractors who were found to have violated regulations on occupational health and safety and other labor requirements “won’t be tolerated by the SBMA.”

He said that of the 42 companies subcontracted by Hanjin for various operations in the shipyard, 18 have been terminated due to infractions or failure to secure proper accreditation. These included UT Corporation, whose worker Efren dela Cruz became the 15th fatality at the Hanjin construction site.

The other subcontractors whose accreditation were not renewed are: Electro Dynamics Construction Development Inc., AFR Construction & Development Co. Inc., Canall Corp., Ron Daniel Construction Corp., Traffic Control Product Corp., General Corp., Geoscience Technology, A.V. Subia Garden, Beton Bau Phils. Inc., Doublefold Construction Corp., Inyoung Phils. Inc., Jeil Sanup Corp., KMI-KJK Inc., LC Builders & Developers Inc., R.P. Alejandro Construction Inc., Wierig Industrial Products Inc., and I. Stone International Corporation. (SBMA Corporate Communications)