The Safety Seal is accorded to businesses that follow minimum occupational health and safety guidelines called for by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), to help the public health sector contain the spread of COVID-19.
“There is a big role that the private sector has to play in the public health sector,” said Unilab Senior Vice President Joey Ochave in the ceremony. “It’s [in] being a partner of government in ensuring that the public health programs of government are effectively implemented.”
Ochave said that management’s answer to employee clamor on voluntary certification not only shows Unilab’s commitment to the health and safety of its community, but also helps government safeguard public health.
United in Unilab
Before and at the height of the pandemic, Unilab responded to the public health crisis as a community with education, transparency, and swift action.
As early as January 2020, Unilab’s online bulletin kept the community updated with medical advisories and digests on virus spread prevention. Employees were notified of the presence of Persons Under Investigation for infection in the company, as well as efforts to trace, quarantine, and contain the spread. Temperature checks and an early, manual health declaration system were also put in place.
Unilab Medical Director Julie Cheng said during the Safety Seal awarding that behind the scenes, various company divisions constantly worked together despite the frantic onset of the lockdown.
“Just learning about SARS-COV-2, reading multiple and ever-changing guidelines, and memorizing all types of quarantines can already drive one crazy,” bared Cheng. “But not us. Buong-buo pa rin kami dito sa Unilab. (We remained united in Unilab.) That is why it is so fitting to call us Unilab warriors.”
When a number of Unilab warriors had to frontline in the office, the company made sure workplaces were a safe haven. Employees returning to work in all Unilab offices and manufacturing plants underwent RT-PCR testing, shared Cheng. The Property Services Group (PSG) installed UV filters on vents, safety markings and posters, acrylic barriers, and alcohol stands.
Cheng also highlighted company efforts to fully automate health declaration and contact tracing with the COVID-19 Self-Assessment for Employees (SAFE) and the Alagang Unilab Health Tracker mobile app.
SAFE is an online survey answered every 2 weeks to help Unilab’s medical department determine if an employee has COVID-19-related symptoms or exposure, and check their medical history.
The survey is required to access the health tracker app, where employees—onsite, in field, or work-from-home—must answer a daily health declaration form, log temperatures twice, and record people they interacted with. The app then generates a Work Passport to enter work premises. Otherwise, the app provides Cheng’s contact details for unfit-to-work employees to obtain a medical clearance.
On top of all these, the PSG provided KN95 masks to employees and spearheaded BayaniHop, or Unilab’s carpool community, to help fit-to-work passengers and drivers connect with each other for a safe commute to the company amidst a crippled national mass transportation.
‘A win amidst the pandemic’
Cheng ended her remarks thanking the different divisions under the “Unilab family.” The triumph is not only in earning the Safety Seal, she said, but also in being able to work together to make workplaces safer.
“Our collaboration and teamwork—it’s really bayanihan at its finest,” said Cheng.
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who personally awarded the certification, also lauded Unilab’s efforts to uphold public health standards even if there are no tangible incentives for a manufacturing company. Restaurants, in comparison, can increase dining occupancy.
“I have no doubt that your company is compliant to all health protocols, including occupational safety standards and labor standards,” said Bello.
Earning a Safety Seal is just one of Unilab’s many efforts to help the public sector fight the pandemic. As lockdown ensued, the company provided aid in the form of medicines and vitamins, medical equipment, and other donations to Filipinos in need. This year, the mission to extend care to the company’s different stakeholders continues through various programs led by the divisions
Bayanihan felt not only within the Unilab community, but also with the government and entire nation, can help the country swiftly surpass this crisis, said Ochave.