News: Extreme heat pushing Filipino workers to demand better safety measures

Compensation & Benefits

Extreme heat pushing Filipino workers to demand better safety measures

As summer temperatures soar in the Philippines, worker safety advocates demand improved measures to protect against heat stress and exhaustion.
Extreme heat pushing Filipino workers to demand better safety measures

Groups advocating for workers’ rights in the Philippines are calling on businesses and government officials to implement better safety measures for workers exposed to the intense summer heat.

The Philippines has been seeing heat indexes rise to dangerously high levels of up to 40 degrees Celsius, leaving workers vulnerable to the adverse effects of heat stress and exhaustion.

Safety measures and policies for workers in the Philippines fall short

For the labour coalition Nagkaisa: “Current laws and regulations fall short in addressing the challenges and stresses faced by workers due to extreme heat.”

The Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment said workers affected by the extreme heat are allowed to skip work, as stated in a 2022 advisory from the agency.

Yet, not all employers in the Philippines guarantee paid leave for absences related to weather conditions. Workers who do not have the benefit of paid leave will not receive any compensation.

Employers, however, cannot sanction workers who fail to report for duty under such circumstances.

“Extreme heat is a form of weather disturbance, like El Niño,” said Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma, as reported in The Philippine Star.

“If reporting [to work] will expose the worker to danger, whether actual or imminent, then the worker is justified [in not reporting to or rendering work],” he said.

Filipino workers' occupational hazards

Rights advocates are demanding protective measures for construction and public service workers. These segments of the workforce are believed to suffer the most during extreme weather conditions.

One union, representing 3,000 construction workers across the Philippines, shed light on the occupational hazards their members face while working under the sun.

“When they go to work, they always say that they have one foot in the grave,” Santiago Nolla of the National Union of Building and Construction Workers told Rappler, adding how some union members recently suffered from heat stroke.

On Thursday, the national weather bureau forecast 38 areas in the Philippines would experience temperatures of up to 47 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, the country’s health department said there have been at least six deaths linked to the rising temperatures.

Workers who fall ill because of the intense heat and are admitted at health facilities accredited by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will receive a benefit package of over 6,500 Philippine pesos (approx. US$112).

Mental health effects of working in extreme heat

Apart from physical ailments, however, workers are also vulnerable to the negative effects of extreme heat on their mental health, the International Labor Organization warned.

“Indeed, experiences from a number of regions across the world, including the Philippines, demonstrate how extreme climate events are linked with an increased burden of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), depression, anxiety, stress, and suicide in people of all ages,” the ILO said.

“In the workplace, this can lead to increased job tension, higher turnover intentions, workplace hostility, and stress about extreme weather, which could impede the ability to make essential work-related decisions.”

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Topics: Compensation & Benefits, #Wellbeing

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