Civil, Property, Family Laws

The Construction Industry’s “New Normal”

In DPWH Department Order No. 39, Series of 2020 (“DPWH D.O. No. 39”), the Department of Public Works and Highways (“DPWH”) issued specific guidelines for the implementation of allowed infrastructure projects during the Public Health Crisis under ECQ, MECQ, GCQ and MGCQ, the safety measures that contractors must strictly adhere to at all times, and the penalties for violations therefor. The guidelines contained in DPWH D.O. No. 39 repealed DPWH Department Order No. 35, Series of 2020, and is hereinafter referred to as the “Revised Guidelines”.

Allowed Construction Projects

In areas under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ)

In areas under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ)

In areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ)

Only the following construction projects are allowed in areas under ECQ:

  1. Essential projects, whether public or private, such as but not limited to quarantine and isolation facilities for suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID-19 cases;
  2. Facilities for health sector dealing with suspect, probable, and confirmed COVID -19 cases;
  3. Facilities for construction personnel who perform emergency works, flood control, and other disaster risk reduction and rehabilitation works;
  4. Sewerage projects, water services facilities projects, and digital works;
  5. Priority public infrastructure projects; and
  6. Priority private infrastructure projects pertaining to food production, agriculture, fisheries, energy, housing, communication, water utilities, manufacturing, and business process outsourcing

In addition to the allowed construction projects under ECQ, other essential and priority projects are also allowed to operate subject to strict compliance with the Revised Construction Safety Guidelines.

Small-scale projects, defined as construction projects which are intended for private and personal use, are not allowed for being impractically unable to comply with the Revised Construction Safety Guidelines in areas under ECQ, MECQ, GCQ, and MGCQ due to scale.

All public and private construction projects are allowed, subject to strict compliance with the Revised Construction Safety Guidelines.

Safety Guidelines Prior to Deployment

Part III of DPWH D.O. No. 39 provides the guidelines prior to deployment in all instances:

1. Only persons who satisfy the following may be included in the workforce:

  • Must not be below twenty-one (21) nor sixty (60) years of age or older;
  • Must not be pregnant;
  • Must be without pre-existing health conditions, co-morbidities, or other health risk; and
  • Must not be living with any of the persons mentioned.

(Employees who are disqualified under any of the above may be included in the workforce for construction projects if they are allowed under the Revised Omnibus Guidelines issued by the IATF.)

2. Construction personnel are required to undergo quarantine for fourteen (14) days prior to deployment; alternatively, the employee may undergo any Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) – approved COVID-19 test, and be retested as the need arises. Consultation with medical doctors must be made prior to testing. COVID-19 test procedures and return-to-work policies of the contractors must comply with DOH Department Circular No. 2020-0160, DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020-0220, and other pertinent issuances of the DOH on the matter.

3. Contractors should provide their employees with the necessary welfare facilities and amenities, including quarters for accommodations, and shall ensure compliance with minimum health standards such as social distancing, proper hygiene, etc.

4. Contractors must ensure project compliance with DOLE Department Order No. 13, Series of 1998 (“DOLE D.O. No. 13”), and the DTI and DOLE Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19 (“DTI-DOLE Interim Guidelines”). They must provide their personnel a continuous supply of the following:

  • Vitamins, particularly Vitamin C
  • Other over-the-counter medicines
  • Quarantine facilities
  • Oxygen tanks for emergency purposes.

5. Disinfection facilities must be provided in project sites and placed in strategic locations therein in compliance with DOH and IATF Guidelines.

6. Safety Officers must conduct proper information dissemination on COVID-19 construction protocols on top of existing construction safety practices.

Safety Guidelines During Deployment

  1. Carry out an inventory of works for construction sequencing which must be followed to uphold physical distancing. Break times must be scheduled in a staggered manner.
  2. Employees must be housed in their respective quarters for the entire duration of the project. If this cannot be done, the contractor must conduct “Prior to Deployment” procedures for every instance of re-entry.
  3. Errands to be conducted outside the construction site premises, as well as the number of personnel running them shall be limited. Upon re-entry, personnel who run errands must be properly disinfected and closely monitored for symptoms within fourteen (14) days.
  4. Regular maintenance and daily disinfection must be done in field offices, employees’ quarters, and other common areas.
  5. Contractors must make available adequate food, safe/potable drinking water, disinfectants, and hand soaps to its in-house personnel.
  6. Pre- and post-work health conditions of workers must be monitored daily by the contractors. The monitoring must include, but is not limited to, temperature, health, and exposure checks. Personnel who manifest COVID-19 symptoms must be immediately isolated and quarantined for fourteen (14) days and if necessary, brought to the nearest DOH COVID-19 treatment facility under strict confidentiality and privacy. Proper protocols in accordance with DTI-DOLE Interim Guidelines must be strictly observed.
  7. The Safety Officer shall strictly monitor compliance with safety standards and quarantine protocols of work activities at the site daily.
  8. A full-time Safety Engineer/Officer must be assigned at the construction site to strictly monitor work activities and ensure compliance with DOLE D.O. No. 13 and the DTI-DOLE Interim Guidelines on the wearing of required additional PPE such as, but not limited to, face masks, safety glasses/goggles, face shields, and long sleeve T-shirts, as well as other measures stated in the Required Construction Safety Guidelines.
  9. Transport service shall be provided for off-site employees’ quarters. The vehicle shall be disinfected before and after use and social distancing must be observed therein.
  10. Sharing of construction and office equipment is discouraged but if necessary, the shared equipment must be disinfected in between transfers between personnel.
  11. A specific team of personnel must be assigned for all materials and equipment delivery and disposal which must be conducted in an isolated loading/unloading zone. Contact with the delivery/disposal personnel must be limited and all materials and/or equipment entering the construction site should be disinfected, as much as possible.
  12. Non-essential personnel, visitors, and the general public shall be restricted from entering the construction site, employees’ quarters, and field offices. All personnel entering the construction site on a temporary basis such as delivery truck drivers, inspectors, etc., must be properly logged and checked for symptoms.
  13. Drinking, gatherings, and/or merrymaking are strictly prohibited inside the construction site premises.
  14. Deployment of employees within the construction site must be clustered and staggered to minimize personnel contact and to facilitate contact tracing.
  15. Infectious wastes such as PPEs and other waste products from outside the construction premises must be disposed of properly.

DOLE Labor Advisory No. 18, series of 2020 provides that in the case of contracting and subcontracting arrangements, the cost of COVID-19 prevention and control measures shall be borne by the principal of the contractors.

Monitoring and Enforcement

  • For DPWH infrastructure projects

The head of the concerned DPWH Implementing Office (“IO”) shall monitor compliance with the Revised Guidelines and issue construction quarantine passes (“QP”) clearly indicating the identification, designation, nature of work, validity, and destination to each of the qualified personnel of the concessionaires, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers (collectively “contractors”) based on the list they have submitted and certified. It shall follow the format provided in Annex “A” of DPWH D.O. No. 39 and it shall cover the transit of personnel from:

  1. MGCQ, GCQ, MECQ <-->ECQ area
  2. Area not under community quarantine <--> MGCQ, GCQ, MECQ, ECQ area
  • For LGU implemented projects and private construction projects

The LGU concerned, through its City/Municipal Engineering Office, shall perform the same tasks as the head of the concerned DPWH IO above.

  • For infrastructure projects implemented by other national government agencies, Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC), and other government instrumentalities

The head or representative of the agency, GOCC, or government instrumentality concerned shall perform the tasks enjoined of the head of the concerned DPWH IO above.

Contractors must submit personal records of all personnel necessary for contact tracing and monitoring purposes to the DPWH IO, LGU, or Implementing Government Agency, Instrumentality or GOCC. The monitoring forms must follow the format in Annexes “B” and “C” of DPWH D.O. No. 39. These records must be resubmitted and updated monthly or as needed.

The design for the disinfection facilities and amenities should be submitted by the contractors to the DPWH IO, LGU, or Implementing Government Agency, Instrumentality or GOCC for monitoring.

Contractors must submit to the DPWH IO, LGU, or Implementing Government Agency, Instrumentality or GOCC a certification under oath that they have complied and shall continue to comply with the provisions of the Revised Guidelines within fifteen (15) days from commencement of work, following the format in Annex “D” of DPWH D.O. No. 39.

The government and private construction projects allowed herein are subject to the visitorial and enforcement powers of the DOLE and DTI to ensure compliance with the provisions regarding the maximum allowable operational capacity in establishments as well as minimum health standards and protocols.


Under DPWH D.O. No. 39, those who are found to have violated the safety guidelines contained in Annex “1” therein will be subject to the following penalties, without prejudice to the imposition of additional administrative sanctions under the internal rules of the DPWH and/or to the filing of criminal actions under applicable laws:

  1. Termination of contract for breach thereof resulting to default under Item III(A)(2)(c)(i), Annex I of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9184 in relation to Section 37.2.3 of the same. The provision states that bidding requirements which require bidders to know and be familiar with all existing laws, decrees, ordinances, acts, and regulations, including the Department Orders of the DPWH, shall form part of the contract awarded, and refusal or failure to comply with the valid instruction of DPWH as procuring entity will justify termination of the contract;
  2. Contract termination/rescission under Section 12.21(b) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 6957, as amended by Republic Act No. 7718 (BOT Law);
  3. Referral to the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board of any violation, which shall constitute as a prima facie case of construction malperformance of grave consequence due to negligence, incompetence, or malpractice as contemplated in DOLE D.O. No. 13 and DPWH Department Order No. 56, Series of 2005, in relation to Republic Act No. 4566 (Contractors’ License Law); and
  4. Institution of criminal action under Republic Act No. 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal as One Act)

Click to read the entire text of the following issuances:

Click to read the following related articles:

Disclaimer: The information in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Platon Martinez or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances.