Working at risk
by Mark Angelo R. Tolentino
Special Organizing Program Officer
Associated Labor Unions (ALU)
Many workers have to face the risk of extreme weather condition as they work in open sites such as dry docks and shipyard repair facilities. Weather can be changeable; with fluctuating temperatures, rain and extreme heat. For those who are not prepared, working in adverse weather can cause unstable work conditions and health problems.
During a social investigation on the fishing industry in Navotas Fish Port Complex, I passed through a nearby shipyard repair facility and noticed some dry dock workers or locally known as “baraderos”. They build and repair giant commercial fishing vessels in an open site located at the fish port complex.
Equipped with protective gears, they are working enthusiastically; oblivious and not worrying about the extreme heat of the sun that could cause exhaustion and dehydration. It seems like they are used to work in this type of environment condition. You can see through their faces that they are dedicated regardless of the thermal discomfort on their workplace.
It was in the late afternoon on that day when the sky got dark and a heavy rain suddenly poured while the baraderos were working in the open site. Most of them quickly rushed to secure the welding machine and other repair equipment to prevent them from getting wet. They successfully put all the equipments to shelter but forgot to secure and protect themselves from the heavy rain as they were going back and forth from the open site to the storage area, ensuring all the machine and equipment are safe.
It is alarming enough that workers are exposed to extreme heat especially in an open site on a day to day basis. How much more if that is followed by exposure to rains. The reality is, the Philippines has only dry and wet seasons, and is even visited by more than 20 typhoons/year. This is a serious health and safety concern that needs to be addressed or managed appropriately and effectively, for workers’ well-being and productivity and, business growth as well. CPM