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New DOLE Rules on Workplace Safety Compliance for Micro and Small Enterprises

Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) are the backbones of the Philippines' economy. However, MSEs are faced with continuous daily struggles and challenges in a swift and competitive market. Some MSEs come and go in the market due to limited resources and knowledge about such development processes. Research findings from different areas state that MSEs typically have difficulty carrying out workplace development processes, especially OSH. The International Labor Organization reiterated that these enterprises are characterized by a weak safety culture and a lack of awareness of the consequences of occupational injuries and diseases in terms of costs.

Last April 12, 2023, the DOLE released Department Order No. 238 series of 2023 to secure a higher level of compliance with the both the labor and OSH standards to ensure continuity and sustainability of compliance in all workplaces, especially the MSEs. According to the new rules, a new approach called technical and advisory visit (TAV) will be conducted to initially assist employers in complying with DOLE issuances to achieve the objective of the Labor Code of the Philippines.

The TAV is a one-day orientation (online, onsite or hybrid) for MSEs that will cover the OSH Standards, general labor standards, productivity toolbox, child and family welfare program, and other DOLE policies and programs. Representatives will accomplish and submit a checklist at the end of the orientation to self-check the compliance status of their establishments, and to submit their employment records which may be subjected to random validation.

MSEs with compliance gaps shall accomplish an action plan indicating the interventions and further technical assistance needed. They shall be provided with three months to complete the action plan from the date of submission to the DOLE. Monitoring of compliance with the action plan will be made through telephone, mobile phone, online platform, or other means of communication.

At the end of the three-month period, the DOLE will conduct a labor inspection to validate the action plans and employment records, provide further technical assistance, and inspect the work premises. After which, a Notice of Visit Results indicating the MSE’s noted violations with applicable OSH and labor standards will be issued.

The employer is required to correct the violations within 20 days of the receipt of the Notice of Visit Results. The employer’s failure or refusal to comply with the provisions of the OSH standards shall be deemed willful if done voluntarily, deliberately, and intentionally.

The DOLE, in collaboration with the LGU, will prepare and issue letters of invitation to the MSEs for the TAV scheduling. MSEs can independently request that TAV be conducted or ask about local TAV orientation schedules. The DOLE will also work with the DTI and other governmental agencies to provide further business services to MSEs as well as community-based compliance activities.

It is highly recommended that MSEs contact their nearest DOLE offices for the TAV schedules and register for the orientations to be fully aware in making OSH not a mere compliance, but a way of life.

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