Friday, February 09, 2007

Indonesian work accidents still high

National News - February 07, 2007
Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite frequent occupational safety campaigns, official data indicate that the level of workplace accidents in the country remains high.

According to figures from the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, there were 92,700 workplace accidents in 2006, a decrease from 96,000 in 2005. The accidents in 2006 resulted in 2,045 deaths and the loss of 38 million work days.

A total of Rp 214 billion (US$23.6 million) was paid out to the families of those killed in workplace accidents in 2006. The compensation came from the companies concerned and state-owned insurance company PT Jamsostek.

According to the International Labor Organization, occupational accidents remain a serious problem in developing countries, causing 4 percent of gross national product in material losses to governments and employers.

"This data reflects the absence of serious attention from either the government or employers to protect workers in the workplace. The annual occupational safety campaign (K3) has not been effective, and this situation will affect employers because occupational accidents affect company productivity," Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno said when presenting awards to 405 companies with zero occupational accidents in the past three years. The awards were handed out during a ceremony here Tuesday.

The minister also recognized the governors of East Kalimantan, North Sumatra and East Java, and dozens of regents and mayors for their work toward improving occupational safety in their regions.

Minister Erman also acknowledged the high number of occupational accidents had a lot to do with weak law enforcement and government supervision, and the lack of awareness among employers of the importance of safety in the workplace.

In addition to the light penalties called for under the law on occupational safety, many regions lack inspectors to enforce the law. Many employers also prefer the relatively light fines for infractions rather than providing costly safety equipment for workers.

The 1970 law on occupational safety threatens a maximum three-month jail sentence or a maximum fine of Rp 100,000. In addition to this law, five ministerial decrees have been issued to regulate the implementation of occupational safety programs in those industries seen as most at risk for workplace accidents.

"The law must be reviewed to impose harsh sanctions on violating companies, and regional administrations will be encouraged to enhance supervision of accident-prone industries and projects," Erman said.

Director general of industrial relations and social security affairs at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Soewito Ardiyanto, blamed the high number of workplace accidents on employers who ignored the law in an effort to increase productivity.

"Law No. 7/1981 requiring companies to regularly provide labor reports to the government is obligatory for almost 177,000 companies operating in Indonesia, but only a small part of them submit their labor reports regularly," he said.

The lack of awareness on the part of employers of the need for labor protection is also indicated by the fact that only 7.5 million of some 30 million workers in the formal sector have been registered with PT Jamsostek.


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