The remains of multi-awarded actor/director Eddie Garcia, who passed away on June 20, have been cremated and his family, friends and fans have said their goodbyes. It is not just his movies and his good deeds in and out of showbiz that will leave a lasting imprint in people’s minds, though. Even in death, the veteran thespian is leaving a lasting mark, calling attention to safety measures in workplaces.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), particularly its Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), said it is already looking into the fatal accident that caused the cervical fracture suffered by the 90-year-old actor. To recall, Garcia tripped on a cable on June 8 while filming a scene for a teleserye (TV series) for GMA Network TV. Video footage of the said incident, which happened in Tondo, was widely shared on social media.
GMA cited in a statement that it is their practice to “have medical personnel and ambulance crew on standby whenever the production is executing big action scenes during taping.” However, according to reports, there were no first aid respondents or medical personnel on set when Garcia was injured. The TV network is conducting its own investigation, saying its “management is committed to getting to the bottom of (the) unfortunate incident.” Garcia was in critical condition and in a comatose state from June 8 until his death on June 20.
In a statement, the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc. (DGPI) said Garcia’s death is “a sad and urgent reminder to the film and television industries that safety protocols at work and on set are of paramount importance.”
His fellow actors, including Sharon Cuneta and Judy Ann Santos, cited in their condolence statements that his death could have been avoided. “He should not have died yet. Had there been no neglect of safety for the actors, he would have lived to more than 100!” Sharon wrote in an Instagram post. Judy Ann called on networks to look into proper care in production sets. “Hanggang sa huli ibinukas mo ang mata ng industriya. Kung paanong dapat pahalagahan at wag balewalain ang kaligtasan ng bawat taong nagtatrabaho sa produksyon…” she cited in an Instagram post.
Ironically, it was just in August last year when Republic Act No. 11058 entitled “An Act Strengthening Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Standards and Providing Penalties for Violations thereof” was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Filipino workers are now better protected with the newly signed RA 11058 that requires employers to provide complete safe work procedures; inform workers of hazards associated with their specific jobs; provide appropriate and personal protective equipment which have passed the DOLE’s required tests; and provide access to mandatory OSH trainings as prescribed by the DOLE.
From the workers’ side, the law encourages them to know all they could about the risks inherent in the tasks they perform, refuse unsafe work, report accidents and actively participate in planning and implementing the safety and health program of the company they work for. Every worker has a right to safe and healthful conditions of work. It means that the worker shall be assured of effective protection against the danger of injury, sickness or death through safe and healthful working conditions.
In the ongoing probe, the OSHC is tasked to find out if there is compliance on the OSH rules and regulation as far as Eddie Garcia’s fatal accident is concerned. Employers who violate the Occupational Safety and Health Standards will be fined with P100,000 per day of non-compliance.
“Safety first” is more than a catchphrase or hashtag, let us all be careful while doing our jobs. Ingat!