By Henry Empeño, BusinessMirror, May 17, 2018
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Authorities have suspended a subcontractor at the Hanjin shipyard in the Redondo Peninsula here after an accident last Saturday killed one worker and injured three others when they fell off a collapsed platform mounted at the side of a ship under construction.
Both the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Region 3 said they have ordered Binictican I-Tech Corp. to stop its operations pending compliance with occupational safety standards.
Dr. Solomon Jacalne, head of the SBMA Public Health and Safety Department, said on Wednesday that the Subic agency has issued a cease and desist order (CDO) against the erring subcontractor while coordinating corrective measures with Hanjin Heavy Industries Corporation-Philippines (HHIC-Phil), the operator of the shipyard.
“We have to look at possible negligence, on why the accident had happened,” Jacalne said. “We have to ensure that those mistakes were corrected and would not happen again.”
Jacalne added that the subcontractor had informed the SBMA that it voluntarily applied corrective actions to prevent secondary accidents, and was closely coordinating with the workers’ families to give necessary assistance.
Meanwhile, DOLE Region 3 director Zenaida Angara-Campita also ordered a work stoppage at Binictican I-Tech on Tuesday after receiving results of an investigation conducted by the agency.
The SBMA said the accident unfolded at 3:30 p.m. during the afternoon break on Saturday when nine workers working atop a platform at the side of a vessel took shelter under a canvas canopy to escape the intense heat of the sun.
Because of the combined weight of the workers, one of the bolts in the scaffolding reportedly snapped, causing the platform to tip down.
A video recording of the incident that was posted by workers on social media showed one of the victims clinging to the platform and then falling at least 15 feet to the ground where co-workers held some tarpaulin to break his fall.
Another worker clung to some cables, swung down haphazardly, until he fell the few remaining feet to the ground.
While wearing helmet and other personal protective equipment, the workers appeared not to be wearing safety harnesses as they worked more than 20 feet off the ground.
The SBMA report said five of the workers were able to hold on tight to the platform and were later rescued, but four others fell and sustained severe injuries.
Ferdinand Leuterio, a 38-year old native of Leyte, who was among the injured, died of internal injuries at a hospital in the Subic Bay Freeport two days later.
Meanwhile, a group of workers directly blamed the practice of labor-subcontracting at the Hanjin shipyard for the spate of accidents that has killed at least 40 workers in the last 10 years that the Korean shipbuilder operated here.
“This is clearly the fault of Hanjin management,” the Samahan ng mga Manggagawa sa Hanjin (Samahan) said in a statement posted on social media. It added that accidents happen at the shipyard because the management did not feel responsible for the workers, as the latter were employed by HHIC-Phil subcontractors.
“It saddens us that another worker gave up his life while working on a ship so that the Hanjin management could earn big money. And because the injured workers are employed only by subcontractors, Hanjin may again escape liability from this accident,” the group added.
The group also called on the Department of Labor and Employment to do its job and resolve the problem at the Subic shipyard.
“Until all workers at Hanjin were regularized, we cannot prevent accidents like this from recurring,” the Samahan also said.
Hanjin employs more than 30,000 workers at its Redondo Peninsula shipyard here. Most of them are hired on a contractual basis.
Last February, the Hanjin management signed a memorandum of agreement with the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Pilipino Organisado-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines to pursue a collective bargaining agreement between the company’s 18 subcontractors and its counterpart labor unions.
The agreement called for the negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for the promotion and protection of workers’ rights and welfare.
Workers said, however, that a CBA has yet to be completed.