A Philippine youth champion finds an innovative way to improve her fellow millennials’ knowledge about occupational safety and health.

MANILA, The Philippines (ILO News) – Euniz Johanne Garcia was barely eight years old when her mother passed away. The tragedy pushed her to study hard and become a specialist in Information Technology. When, after graduating, a chance came up to work for the Government of the Philippines, she grabbed it.

“I learned a lot. I participated in various trainings, which helped me grow professionally. I became more aware of current events and relevant issues in the Philippines, especially in the labour sector,” recalls Garcia.

While working for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)  as an Information System Analyst, Garcia saw a Facebook post on the ILO Philippines Country Office page , promoting the 2017 World Congress for Safety and Health at Work . She applied to be a Congress delegate and felt privileged to be selected and become a youth champion for safety and health at work.

“After the Congress in Singapore, I became more aware of occupational safety and health (OSH) issues, especially among young people,” said Garcia. “Millennials make up one-third of the population in the Philippines. This young generation of workers and entrepreneurs, sometimes called ‘digital natives’, are up-to-speed with internet, gaming, social networks and mobile technology but they lack skills and training on occupational safety and health, and they are not aware of workers’ and employers’ rights and duties.”

Young workers as they try the OSH app. © I. Rigon / ILO

Young workers as they try the OSH app.
© I. Rigon / ILO

A survey of the knowledge, attitude and behaviour of young people in the Philippines in relation to OSH revealed that most had limited knowledge of both OSH standards and practices. The survey, carried out by the ILO’s SafeYouth@Work Project  and funded by the United States Department of Labor (US DOL) , revealed that many young workers believe that complying with OSH standards takes too much time and that accidents only happen to “unlucky” people. The same survey – which covered the agriculture and construction sectors in three regions of the Philippines – found that employers often see OSH measures and training as business expenses rather than as a worthwhile investment.

Against this background, Garcia joined with other youth champions to launch the Advancement of Youth on Occupational Safety and Health  (AYOSH)  initiative. Supported and guided by her colleagues and her supervisor at DOLE, she also developed an e-learning tool to educate millennial workers on OSH through entertainment. She felt it would be more effective to engage their interest in building safer and healthier workplaces through an interactive game or application. The app was launched in the Philippines on World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2018. It has already been consulted by more than 500 young workers and 20 experts.

Young workers try the OSH app at 2018 Philippines World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
© I. Rigon / ILO

In August 2018, the Philippines introduced a national law on OSH  designed to ensure the implementation of proper health and safety standards in workplaces. The new law outlines the duties and responsibilities of all stakeholders and creates strict penalties for non-compliance. Under the new law, employers must provide free protective equipment and respect their workers’ right to refuse to work in hazardous conditions.

Garcia is now revising and updating her e-learning module to incorporate these OSH reforms.

“I am thinking of catchy ways to raise awareness and support implementation of the new law. For me, it is vital to educate and help protect young people because they are the future of work, and how better to communicate with “digital natives” than speaking their language?” the 26-year-old said.

“We are glad to see innovative and creative ways to reach young workers through mobile games and learning kiosks. These are more than just tools and strategies, but ways to help save lives and to promote safe and decent work,” said Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines. “We must be prepared to support young people in their efforts to determine their future by providing them with resources and opportunities to be actively engaged.”

Funding is provided by the United States Department of Labor  under cooperative agreement number IL-26690-14-75-K-11.

This material does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the United States Department of Labor , nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the United States Government. One hundred percentage of the total costs of the project or programme is financed with Federal funds, for a total of 11,443,156 dollars.