Mon, Sep 02, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Filipinos urge factories to improve safety

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES:The coworkers of a woman who died after suffering chemical burns said that there were no neutralizing agents readily available on site

Staff writer, with CNA

The entrance to the Ministry of Labor is pictured in Taipei on Friday.

Photo: Lee Ya-wen, Taipei Times

The Filipino community on Saturday called for factories in Taiwan to provide safer environments for its workers after a Filipina died because of a chemical spill this week.

The woman, identified by local Chinese-language media as Deserie Castro Tagubasi, 29, died on Wednesday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital after suffering chemical burns when a container of a mixture containing hydrofluoric acid fell and splattered against her legs.

Tagubasi was working at an electronics plant in Miaoli County’s Chunan Science Park (竹南科學園區) operated by LED maker Tyntek Corp, local media reported.

Fidel A. Macauyag, labor attache and director of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Taichung, said that he has faith in Taiwanese investigators, and would follow up on their progress after Tagubasi’s body has been returned to the Philippines.

He would coordinate with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, he said.

Macauyag said he hopes that an in-depth investigation will be carried out by the police and labor authorities to avoid a repeat of the accident.

“The government can implement regulations to prevent similar accidents,” he said. “I hope that something can be done to properly protect not only foreign, but local workers.”

If the employer is found to be guilty due to negligence then they should be held liable, Macauyag added.

While the incident might be considered an isolated case, he said that he talked with some of Tagubasi’s coworkers and there are still questions to be asked regarding safety at the company.

“Apparently, very corrosive chemicals are used to clean metals and electronic parts, while the workers are only provided with an apron as protective gear, which covers only the front of the body from the upper chest to the knees,” Macauyag said.

“This is not enough. I think that if a person is working with these chemicals, they should be fully protected and neutralizing agents should be readily available on the premises in case of accidents,” he said.

According to the workers who gave Tagubasi first aid, there was no chemical readily available to neutralize the effects of the corrosive acid, he said.

A former employee of the company, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed what Macauyag said.

“We only wore a lab gown type of clothing, which covered to just below the knee. When we handled chemicals we just added an apron, two thick facial masks, headgear and optional goggles,” she said.

The company also failed to provide foreign workers with proper safety training, such as first aid or formal training about what to do in the event of an emergency, she said.

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