Safety and health at work

Construction ahead, safety first

Construction attracts more young workers but it has one of the highest rates of occupational injury and illness. Santi knows that workers in the construction industry face day to day occupational hazards.

Feature | 14 May 2018
Santi has witnessed how businesses, workers and their families suffer due to workplace accidents that can be avoided. The 36-year old union leader was part of a task force that investigated and inspected a factory fire in 2015. Santi felt cold shivers as he entered the factory where over 70 workers died because of locked fire exits.

As the General-Secretary of the National Union of Building and Construction Workers (NUBCW), Santi knows that workers in the construction industry face day to day occupational hazards. NUBCW is an affiliate of the Building and Wood Worker’s International (BWI) global union in the Philippines.

The ILO's SafeYouth@Work survey among selected young Filipino workers revealed that over 90 per cent said there had been an injury or illness in their workplace in the last 12 months and only eight percent of young workers reported receiving training on OSH. (Photo by: ILO/M. Fossat)
“You have one foot in the grave for construction workers. They are not sure whether they will go home safe and alive for their families. It is crucial to complete safety orientations, to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and to understand occupational hazards such as deadly chemicals,” Santi explains.

Santi just finished a capacity building and training course on occupational safety and health (OSH) held on 10 to 14 April 2018. The ILO’s SafeYouth@Work Project spearheaded the course with workers’ organizations and young people in the Philippines. The project is funded by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL).

“Participation is crucial in training and ensuring that people are part of the process. I learned the difference between traditional and non-traditional training and the importance of attitudes and behaviour of a trainer,” says Santi.

Santi conducts a one-day safety orientation for construction workers and a 40-hour safe construction training on a quarterly basis. Aside from enhancing the content and refining his approach, Santi is also considering a partnership with the project to make the training more regular.

“Many organizations like us are eager to learn more. We have the passion and we need partners to support us in our goal of promoting OSH and decent work. If workers have decent jobs, then their families will reap the benefits,” Santi concludes.

Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor under cooperative agreement number IL-26690-14-75-K-11.

This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government. One hundred percentage of the total costs of the project or programme is financed with Federal funds, for a total of 11,443,156 dollars.