Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hanjin failed to warn workers on restricted areas -- SBMA

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines -- The death of a Filipino worker at the Hanjin construction site here last week could be attributed to the company's failure to instruct workers not to enter restricted areas, according to a report of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

The report, which listed the potential causes for liability of Hanjin Construction Corp. Ltd. (HCCL), also said the Korean company failed to provide rest areas and sheds for its workers.

Mario Atrero, 52, of Candelaria, Zambales, was killed while five others were hurt on Friday, when they were hit by steel frames that collapsed due to strong winds.

"The site safety officer must be strict in the implementation of safety rules and regulations," the report said.

The incident occurred at Dry Dock 6 of the Hanjin shipyard "in an area where steel forms (wall kicker forms) used for dry dock concrete wall were being assembled and dismantled."

A group of workers was working in the area when heavy rains struck and the six workers rushed to seek shelter in between the steel frames.

A sudden gust of wind caused the collapse of the frames, fatally hitting Atrero and injuring the five others.

Pyeong Jong Yu, Hanjin general manager, said Atrero's death was caused by "force majeure" and not by negligence of the company.

"Mostly accidents [at the Hanjin shipyard] can be attributed to human error. But we are strictly implementing safety programs. Hanjin is implementing safety requirements more than the law requires," he said in an earlier interview.

SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said the Department of Labor and Employment and the SBMA have been conducting a follow up audit.

Their recommendations would be submitted to the SBMA board, he said.

Arreza earlier said "the situation at the shipyard has become alarming."

He said the HCCL was told to complete all occupational health and safety requirements within 30 days. "Otherwise, we will suspend their operations -- not just the construction activities but also the shipyard operations," he said. By Robert Gonzaga - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

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