Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Zambales governor asks Hanjin to allow inspectors

By Randy Datu – Manila Bulletin

IBA - Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso urged yesterday the Korean construction firm Hanjin to open its facilities to regular inspection to be conducted by an authorized team composed of competent representatives from Subic Freeport and the provincial government.

“The problem will remain for as long as Hanjin continues to refuse the conduct of regular inspection on safety compliance,” Deloso said.

He said the work suspension order should have been issued long before which could have prevented more accidents. “The suspension should be lifted only after all safety measures are completed,” Deloso saod.

Among the measures required by the Subic bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are the conduct of a third-party quality audit of all shipyard equipment and safety performance, creation of an inter-agency occupational health and safety team at the shipyard, and weekly submission of job safety and occupational health reports to the SBMA.

Hanjin Corporation Corp. Ltd, (HHCL), a Korean firm undertaking the construction of shipbuilding facilities, has appealed for the immediate lifting of the work suspension order issued by authorities here.

HHCL business manager Pyeong Jong YU said the company would make an appeal to the SBMA to re-call the work suspension order as it stands to lose millions of dollars for the delay of the project.

A worker who died last Friday brought to 12 the number of deaths recorded at the shipyard since Hanjin began its operations in 2006, with most of the accidents involving workers hired by Hanjin subcontractors. The SBMA has cast doubts on the “force majeure” alibi regarding the latest fatality.

“The safety situation at the shipyard has become alarming,” SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said. The SBMA ordered on Friday the immediate suspension of all construction activities that killed one worker and injured four others.

Arreza said the SBMA has issued a notice to Hanjin for the company to complete all the occupational health and safety requirements within 30 days.

“Otherwise we will suspend their operations – not just construction activities, but also shipyard operations,” Arreza said.

Mr. Arreza issued a cease and desist order against Hanjin minutes after learning of Friday’s deadly accident.

The fatality was identified as Mario Atrero, 52, employee of HHCL from Candelaria, Zambales. HE died when a formwork at a dry dock construction site collapsed due to strong winds.

The four other workers who were injured were identified as Joel Alido, of Palauig, Zambales; Darvin Silva, of San Antonio, Zambales; and Leody Abad, also of Palauig.

HHCL undertakes the construction of facilities for the $1.6-billion shipyard project here of Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp. Philippines (HHICPhil.).

Yu also denied allegations that Hanjin was defying the suspension order and that construction works were continuing inside the shipyard project.

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