"Women, such as salesladies and lady guards, should not be compelled to wear high-heeled shoes in the workplace, nor be deprived of a short span of sitting breaks to prevent health risks," according to Department Order No. 178 or the “Safety and Health Measures for Workers who by the Nature of their Work have to Stand at Work.”
The order, issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III late last month, covers all private sector workers who are required by their employers or establishments to wear high-heeled shoes, stand at work for long period of hours, and those who have jobs which require frequent walking.
The order mandates business establishments to implement the use of practical and comfortable footwear which does not pinch the feet or toes; well-fitted and non-slipping; provide adequate cushion and support to the arch of the feet; flat or low heels which are not higher than one inch and must be wide-based or wedge type.
It also requires employers to provide rest periods to break or cut the time spent on standing or walking, as well as provide the employees with accessible seats where they can perform their duties without detriment or affect the efficiency of their jobs.
“We require establishments to provide short breaks for salesladies. They should have time to flex or rest their feet to eliminate fatigue or stress. They should be provided with comfortable seats,” Bello said.
Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) Director Teresita Cucueco said there are attendant health issues in prolonged standing, particularly while wearing high-heeled shoes in the workplace.
“If the muscles have been overloaded because of the prolonged standing position, there will be a burden on our back as well as on our legs. There will be pain because of fatigue. What will be affected here are the joints, the musculoskeletal system. It can cause some problems in the spine, in the lower legs, and in the end, if this is not properly corrected, one can have arthritis and other related musculoskeletal disorders,” she said.
The new order also requires the installation of appropriate flooring or mats (wood or rubber floorings) to mitigate the impact of frequent walking or prolonged standing.
The DOLE Regional Offices are tasked to inspect and monitor the proper and strict implementation of the said order which will take effect 15 days from its publication.
Article 168 of the Labor Code and Rules 1000 and 1960 of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Standards mandates the labor department to formulate policies and implement programs to ensure the safety and welfare of workers in workplaces.