Philippine College of Occupational Medicine
The Philippine College of Occupational Medicine advocates for every workplace to prioritize health, wellness, and safety. H&L sits down with current president Dr. Edmyr Macabulos as he lays down PCOM’s projects this year to attain this vision, in the midst of the changing landscape of workplaces and advances in the field of Occupational Health
By Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos
A workplace which underscores health, wellness, and safety among its employees will always be a place of productivity and growth. If this kind of mindset is adopted by all companies and establishments, a healthy workforce pushing for a dynamic Philippine economy is no longer a pipe dream.
The Philippine College of Occupational Medicine (PCOM) is one of the movers of workplace health in the country. It envisions a nation where every establishment adheres to Occupational Safety and Health Law (OSH), through their continuous drive to educate, promote, and enhance health and safety most especially in the workplace.
As a stakeholder to the recent passage of the Republic Act 11058 or the Occupational Safety and Health Act, PCOM considers the law as both a victory and a challenge.
According to PCOM president Dr. Edmyr M. Macabulos, while there is an estimated 900,000 formal establishments in the Philippines, the society’s 3,000-strong members continue to address the disparity in numbers by continuously providing updated training in occupational medicine throughout the country all months of the year.
He says, “Occupational Medicine in the country is adapting and constantly changing to the changing landscape of workplaces and advances in the field of Occupational Health.”
A vital tool in spreading awareness about Occupational Medicine is made easier through advances in technology, as well as changes in the legislative landscape.
“If we are to measure its growth, we are at 80 percent of growth in this stage,” Dr. Macabulos adds. “We are nearing a glass ceiling which PCOM aims to break with a goal of creating specialists that are at par with those from countries practicing innovative ways of occupational medicine.”
Occupational medicine in PH
PCOM’s roots are traced back in 1966 when company physicians organized themselves to form the Industrial Medical Association of the Philippines (IMAP). In May 1, 1974, Presidential Decree 442 was signed establishing the labor code of the Philippines. Article 166 of PD 442 (as renumbered) established the basis for creating a safe working environment for workers by employing qualified health personnel who, aside from their PRC qualification, needs to have the necessary training in industrial medicine and occupational safety and health.
This formalized the practice of occupational medicine in the Philippines. It was after three years when the origin of the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine which is the Philippine Occupational and Industrial Medicine Association (POIMA) was born through the aggregation of IMAP, Philippine Association of Occupational Health (PAOH) and Philippine Association of Compensation Medicine (PACOM).
Today, PCOM has grown from a fledgling organization of specialist to one that is strong and robust.
From a starting group of six chapters, PCOM has grown to 27 chapters that have stepped forward to face the challenge of ensuring a safe and healthy workforce throughout the Philippines in all areas of formal economic activity.
“In order to improve the provision of training and education, we will endeavor to find ways to make our courses and training program adapt to the changing times,” he says.
Dr. Macabulos adds that PCOM’s programs will be updated to make it contemporary.
PCOM continues its caravan whereby chapters are visited by the National officers to serve as a vehicle for dialogue with the members and help them address their chapter concerns and provide them aid in the propagation of our OSH advocacy in their part of the Philippines.
This is aside from their regular workshops and write-shops and their continuous drive to advocate occupational safety and health and help in the promotion of OSH in the country.
He adds, “In our work as Occupational Medicine Specialists’, we will always emphasize the preventive aspect of our work in our programs and activities, since the field of Occupational Medicine is a branch of Preventive Medicine.”
Partnerships and participation
Dr. Macabulos says that PCOM’s success in its programs comes from the active participation of its chapters which conduct their own activities in line with the College’s objectives.
“To increase awareness, involvement and participation of stakeholders in our OSH advocacy, the chapters and members are encouraged to formulate and implement innovative programs and projects,” he says.
Some of the current accomplishments in this area are the conduct of the following:
1. Hospital Occupational Health and Safety Congress of PCOM Laguna Chapter
2. Agricultural Summit of PCOM Mindanao Chapter
3. Bayanihan OSH which provides OSH education for high school students by the PCOM Quezon City Chapter
4. Health Care Facilities-Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Congress of PCOM Baguio-Benguet Chapter
In the pipeline is the Fishing and Canning Industry Summit to be undertaken by PCOM SocSkSarGen Chapter.
On top of these are PCOM’s continued partnerships with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Health DOH) as advocates of occupational health and safety and provide services to them, and other government agencies, as necessary, especially in the crafting of laws/legislations, standards, policies and guidelines.
Other activities on occupational safety and health to which PCOM has actively participated in are the mental health law, focusing on the mental health of workers; championing TB in the workplace; and modifying the training and knowledge of Occupational Medicine Specialist to be at par with our ASEAN counterparts.
For PCOM Vice President Phil Pangilinan, the support of various stakeholders supporting the advocacy is a huge help in advancing occupational health.
“Since PCOM’s inception, occupational health gained momentum in terms of relevance and importance in the industry. There has been awareness to the conditions that arise in job performance and support of various stakeholders both in the private sector and government to achieve a healthy and safe workforce.”
Achieving the game plan
PCOM has been actively involved in the revision of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards, RA 11058 and other technical working groups by various government agencies.
The organization will advance the cause of occupational medicine in collaboration and cooperation with stakeholders, both local and international, to include the provision of necessary resources in the pursuit of this program in order to help safeguard promote, maintain, and enhance worker’s health, wellness, and safety.
As Dr. Pangilinan highlights, PCOM wants to impart that underscoring occupational health in the workplace is not only for the benefit of the worker alone. Rather, emphasizes advantages for the employer too.
“A healthy and safe workplace will affect greatly the quality of labor which will be profitable to the employer and workers,” he said, adding that PCOM will always be open to the widespread dissemination of Occupational Safety and Health Programs and involvement of other related government agencies; affiliation with private agencies and gaining their support and awareness among the workers.
This year, PCOM is advancing its drive towards training program in occupational medicine for members to attain specialist status is primordial.
Thus, after going through a series of workshops and writeshops, to finish crafting the new outcome-based Training Program in Occupational Medicine (TPOM), PCOM envisions its full implementation in 2019.
“The organization will thoroughly promote and ensure the members’ professional development through scientific, occupational safety and health research, training, and continuing medical education to contribute to the local and international pool of knowledge,” Dr. Macabulos adds.
A vital step in making this possible is through PCOM’s provision of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development opportunities and its goal to increase the pool of experts in Occupational Medicine.
Several training programs were already developed and will be offered within the year including the “Back to the Basics” refresher in Basic Examination in Occupational Health (BEOH) both for the members, and even non-members physicians who are involved in occupational health and safety among others.
The society will spearhead the conduct of more research works in Occupational Medicine in the country and provide the needed infrastructure to the members to help them carry out their own research studies.
In addition, Dr. Macabulos says that the PCOM will consistently implement its advocacy on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and help various establishments, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to comply with the requirements of various OSH laws and regulation.
As for its internal plans, PCOM will also improve the provision of services to the members by seeking the help of an HR consultant to evaluate the daily operation of the office and staffing issues as notable growth in membership has been seen the past years.
Moreover, PCOM aims to increase the active membership by 25 percent from the starting base of fiscal year 2018-2019 through bringing back inactive members to the fold by offering an amnesty program.
PCOM is also adding more regular members by enjoining graduates of their Basic Course in Occupational Medicine to become part of the organization. The organization also aims to form at least one new chapter every fiscal year.
With PCOM spearheading all projects and programs highlighting the importance of workplace health, there is no doubt this can play a major role in enhancing the health and wellness of our workers, and achieving the collective goal of a healthier, more productive and progressive nation..