The Department of Education Central Office has issued an office memorandum to inform its employees of the conduct of a one-day Occupational Safety and Health Seminar on March 30 and
an Earthquake and Fire Drill on March 31.
According to Engr. Oliver Hernandez of DepEd-Physical Facilities and Schools Engineering Division (DepEd-PFSED) and OIC-Director of Administrative Services, “the activity is very timely not only because of the series of earthquakes that had happened but it will also teach life saving skills that every employee should know. It is important that we know how to respond properly before, during, and after any of these hazards happen in their respective workplace.”
DepEd, in partnership with the Project Alliance on Social Dialogue, has performed a workplace assessment to resolve issues and concerns on occupational safety and health of DepEd employees.
The assessment identified earthquake and fire prone hazards in different buildings being used by DepEd Employees in the Central Office. This prompted Engr. Hernandez’s team to include the central office in the disaster preparedness interventions that the department is doing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Seminar will be conducted on March 30, 2011 at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Central Office from 8:00 am to 4:00pm, followed by an Earthquake/Fire Evacuation Drill on the following day, March 31, 2011 at 10am.
The seminar/drill aims to educate DepEd Disaster Marshals on the identified hazards in the workplace and how to respond to each of these when the need arises in order to minimize vulnerabilities. It also intends to avoid or limit the adverse impact of hazards disaster risks that may strike without warning.
Hernandez furthered that the activity is in line with the observance of the Fire Prevention Month, a month-long campaign which includes the conduct of fire prevention activities nationwide every March. These activities are administered in coordination with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), local government units, firefighting agencies, and other institutions.
A DepEd Occupational Safety and Health Committee will be created. Likewise, DepEd Disaster Marshals (at least two Marshals for every floor of the building within DepEd Complex) will be designated.
Recently, DepEd discussed the state of public schools and their structural integrity as they may be affected by earthquakes. It also mentioned the major interventions being undertaken such as the inspection of DepEd classrooms for possible structural defects to ensure that these can survive earthquakes, the conduct of earthquake drills, and the continuous monitoring on the status of schools near waterfronts that may be in danger from tsunamis.
To date, the Department has inspected a total of 685 schools nationwide.
The department has also constructed a number of hazard resilient school buildings in the Eastern Sea Board area, in compliance with the National Building Code Standards. These buildings can withstand earthquake and typhoons and has an estimated lifespan of more than 50 years.
Immediate repair/rehabilitation or replacement of damaged school buildings through the Quick Response Fund of DepEd is also being done.