Benguet First Assistant District Engineer Benedicta Mendoza said all DPWH projects are considered priority following the revised construction safety guidelines as spelled out in DPWH’s Department Order (DO) Number 39 which supersedes the earlier directive issued under DO No. 35.
The order is pursuant to the Revised Omnibus Guideline on the Implementation of Community Quarantine dated May 15 granting the DPWH to issue construction safety guidelines for allowed government and private construction projects.
Mendoza said personnel to be hired should only those between 21 to 59 years old who are free from health conditions such as immune deficiency, comorbidities and those who reside with someone with COVID-19.
In the revised guidelines, construction personnel may undergo quarantine for 14 days prior to deployment or as an alternative, the employee may undergo any available Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – approved COVID-19 test as may be prescribed by the Department of Health.
Mendoza said compliance to basic health requirements will be the basis of the DPWH to issue workers pass which serves as an identification card prior to the deployment of personnel.
She suggested to hire construction workers who are stranded in the locality instead of hiring somebody from another area.
Concessionaires, contractors and sub-contractors also need to provide their personnel or workers welfare facilities and amenities such as quarters or barracks which will be used during the project duration and ensuring compliance to social distancing and proper hygiene.
Projects should be compliant to occupational and healthy workplace of the Department of Labor and Employment, and the Department of Trade and Industry and the DOLE interim guidelines on workplace prevention and control of COVID-19.
Mendoza also said the contractor must designate and maintain a safety officer not only to disseminate construction protocols but to ensure safety practices and monitor daily work activities. Said officer will also ensure strict compliance on workplace prevention and control of COVID-19 on the wearing of protective equipment such as face masks, safety glasses/goggles, face shields, long sleeve t-shirts and other measures.
Errands outside construction sites should be controlled following proper disinfection procedures upon return, maintained offices, regular maintenance and disinfection of field offices, quarters and common areas, provision of adequate drinking water, disinfectants, and hand soaps, daily monitoring of pre and post-work health conditions of workers.
Sharing of construction equipment is discouraged but if necessary, the shared equipment must be disinfected in between transfers among personnel.
All material and equipment delivery and disposal will be conducted by a specific team of personnel on an isolated loading/unlaoding zone while limiting contact with the delivery/disposal personnel.
The guideline also discourages the entry of non-essential personnel, visitors, at the construction site including quarters and field offices. Logging in of those temporarily entering the construction site is required and checked in for symptoms. Gatherings, liquors and/or merry-making are strictly prohibited within the construction premises.
Clustered and staggered deployment of employees within the construction site shall be observed to minimize personnel contact and for easier contact tracing.
Proper waste disposal should also be provided for infectious waste such as PPEs and other waste products coming from outside construction premises.
For the DPWH infrastructure projects, the agency's Implementing Officer will monitor compliance of the guidelines and issue construction quarantine pass to individual qualified personnel based on the list submitted and certified by the contractor and the like.
Governor Melchor Diclas calls for compliance to safety requirements so that projects especially those that reduce disaster risk such as flood control and landslide protection projects must proceed, otherwise it will be back to zero again with the onset of the rainy season. (JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet)
By Susan C. Aro