Stand­ing at work

The Philip­pines is the first in Asia to ban the manda­tory wear­ing of high-heeled shoes in the work­place.

Business World - - OPINION - MARTIN LUIGI G. SAM­SON MARTIN LUIGI G. SAM­SON is an As­so­ciate of the An­gara Abello Con­cep­cion Re­gala & Cruz Law Of­fices (ACCRALAW), Davao Branch. (6382) 224-0996 mgsam­son

On Aug. 25, the sec­re­tary of the Depart­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment (DoLE) Sil­vestre H. Bello III is­sued Depart­ment Or­der 178-17 Se­ries of 2017 en­ti­tled “Safety and Health Mea­sures for Work­ers Who by the Na­ture of their Work Have to Stand at Work.”

DO 178-17 was is­sued in ac­cor­dance with the power of the sec­re­tary of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment to pro­mul­gate stan­dards to en­sure the safety and health of all em­ploy­ees and to set and en­force manda­tory oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health stan­dards in all places of work so that health risks may be elim­i­nated, and safe and health­ful work­ing con­di­tions in all work­places will be en­sured.

As the ti­tle sug­gests, DO 178-17 aims to curb the harm­ful health con­se­quences which em­ploy­ees may suf­fer as a re­sult of their be­ing re­quired by the na­ture of their work to stand at work dur­ing their en­tire shift. The typ­i­cal ex­am­ples would be re­tail and/or ser­vice em­ploy­ees, as­sem­bly line work­ers, teach­ers, se­cu­rity per­son­nel, as well as cashiers, sales clerks, phar­ma­cists, who are made to stand for the en­tire du­ra­tion of their shifts.

Con­tin­u­ous stand­ing at work usu­ally causes dis­com­fort and fa­tigue to the con­cerned em­ploy­ees. In fact, it has been shown that one should fre­quently al­ter­nate be­tween sit­ting and stand­ing in or­der to avoid fa­tigue.

Oth­er­wise, pro­longed stand­ing at work, es­pe­cially in a fixed po­si­tion, can cause sore feet, swelling of the legs and pain in mus­cles of the legs, back, shoul­ders and neck. More­over, pro­longed stand­ing has been shown to cause vari­cose veins and may even lead to de­gen­er­a­tive dam­age to the joints of the spine, hip, knees, and feet. The health risks are even worse for fe­males who are re­quired to wear high-heeled shoes at work.

DO 178 di­rects all em­ploy­ers and/or es­tab­lish­ments to institute ap­pro­pri­ate con­trol mea­sures in or­der to ad­dress the risks as­so­ciate with stand­ing at work or fre­quent walk­ing. The mea­sures out­lined in DO 178-17 in­clude the fol­low­ing:

• Im­ple­ment rest pe­ri­ods to

break or cut the time spent on stand­ing or walk­ing; • In­stall ap­pro­pri­ate floor­ing

or mats that will mit­i­gate the im­pact of fre­quent walk­ing and pre­vent fa­tigue, such as wood or rub­ber floor­ings; • Pro­vide ta­bles or work sur­faces with ad­justable heights to al­low work­ers to al­ter­nately sit and stand while per­form­ing their tasks; • Pro­vide read­ily ac­ces­si­ble seats to be used dur­ing rest pe­ri­ods or even dur­ing work­ing hours, pro­vided the em­ploy­ees can per­form their du­ties in this po­si­tion with­out detri­ment to ef­fi­ciency. Th­ese can be small fold­able stools which can eas­ily be stowed away so as not to ham­per the work area; and, • Im­ple­ment the use of footwear

which is prac­ti­cal and com­fort­able. Th­ese should not pinch the feet or toes; are well-fit­ted and non­slip­ping; pro­vide ad­e­quate cush­ion and sup­port to the arch of the feet; either flat or with low heels that must be wide-based or wedge type and no higher than one inch.

The em­ploy­ers, in con­sul­ta­tion with the work­ers, may adopt other mea­sures to ad­dress the oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health con­cerns of work­ers who have to stand at work for long pe­ri­ods or whose func­tions re­quire them to work fre­quently.

Aside from the di­rec­tive to al­low the em­ploy­ees to sit or stand at will when­ever pos­si­ble, DO 178- 17 also for­bids em­ploy­ers from re­quir­ing women in wear­ing high- heeled shoes at work. DO 178-17 thus makes the Philip­pines the first coun­try in Asia to ban the manda­tory wear­ing of high­heeled shoes in the work­place.

DO 178-17 will be­come ef­fec­tive 15 days af­ter its pub­li­ca­tion in a news­pa­per of gen­eral cir­cu­la­tion. As of date, it has yet to be pub­lished. The date of ef­fec­tiv­ity is sig­nif­i­cant since DO 178-17 di­rects all cov­ered em­ploy­ers and es­tab­lish­ments to com­ply and to no­tify the DoLE, through the Re­gional Of­fice which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the work­place, of the adop­tion of the safety and health mea­sures within thirty (30) days from the ef­fec­tiv­ity of DO 178-17.

While the new DO does not con­tain a pro­vi­sion on the penal­ties or sanc­tions to be im­posed, em­ploy­ers who will ig­nore or defy the new DO may be is­sued an Or­der of Com­pli­ance by the DoLE. Thus, em­ploy­ers must de­ter­mine whether or not they are cov­ered by the new DO, and if so, com­ply with the di­rec­tives, as well as the re­por­to­rial re­quire­ment.

( The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are those of the au­thor. This ar­ti­cle is for gen­eral in­for­ma­tional and ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses only and not of­fered as and does not con­sti­tute le­gal ad­vice or le­gal opin­ion.)

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