Bill filed to promote occupational safety for artists

MANILA The Ang Probinsyano party-list has filed a bill seeking to institutionalize a mandatory occupational safety, health and emergency response system for all artists, including crew, in the film, television and theater industry.

House Bill No. 81, or the proposed Artists' Safety on Set (ASSET) bill, was filed Monday by Ang Probinsyano Reps. Alfred delos Santos and Ronnie Ong following the accident involving showbiz veteran actor Eddie Garcia.

In filing the bill, the two lawmakers said Garcia's untimely death would have been avoided if there were competent and well-equipped emergency service personnel who attended to him after an accidental fall while shooting a new television series.

They pointed out that while the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Law (Republic Act No. 11058) is already in place to ensure a safe and healthy environment in workplaces, the law itself seems to be inadequate in addressing safety and health issues in the film, television and theater industries.

Aside from accidents, artists are also prone to other medical conditions such as fatigue and sleep deprivation due to long hours of shooting, they said.

"This year alone, the Philippine movie industry has suffered the loss of one of its greatest actors, Mr. Eddie Garcia, due to an accident while working during a taping on set. Hailed as a paragon, an icon and asset of Filipino Cinema with his more than 650 movies and Television Dramas, the Bicolano actor is a distinguished and multi-awarded Philippine actor with a career in the movie industry spanning more than sixty years," the party-list's explanatory note read.

Under HB 81, "all companies, businesses, professional groups and individuals involved in the film, television and theater industries" are mandated to formulate, implement and fund a comprehensive Occupational Safety, Health, and Emergency Response Program (OSHERP) to protect all artists engaged in any of its production, film, segment, show, commercial or performance.

These include media companies, television broadcast stations, film production companies, and theater groups.

The bill even covers festival or event organizers following the death of comedian Chokoleit (Jonathan Aguilar Garcia) in March 2019 while on an out-of-town show.

Among the salient provisions of the bill include the creation and assignment of an Emergency Response Team which shall consist of at least one certified first-aider and one medic "who must all be equipped with medical kits and must all be present on set at all times and be ready to respond and provide emergency care during the occurrence of an accident."

The measure also mandates that all venues and sets for rehearsals, production, taping or performance shall have complete Occupational Safety Requirements and Devices to ensure that the "workplace shall be safe from any imminent threats and dangers to health and safety."

The measure also puts a cap on the working hours for all artists especially for those who are aged 60 years old and above.

As a rule, senior citizens shall not be allowed to work for more than eight hours a day, and in no case beyond 40 hours a week.

The bill also said: "work or production at night shall not be imposed upon the senior citizen artist and shall not be set as a condition to their hiring or to the payment of their services."

No senior citizen artist shall be obliged to render work requiring any excessive physical exertion or similar activities like running, climbing or carrying heavy-weight items, that may pose a threat to their health, safety, and well-being.

To ensure compliance, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) shall have the power to conduct its own general safety and health inspection to determine the effectivity of the OSHERP program submitted by any employer and to recommend revisions or reforms. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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