National HSE Day: don’t end up just by celebrating it

Timboel Siregar Advocacy Coordinator of BPJS Watch and General Secretary of All Indonesian Workers’ Organization-Indonesian Workers’ Society Confederation (Organisasi Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia-Konfederasi Rakyat Pekerja Indonesia – “OPSI-KRPI”)

IO – 12 January 2019 is celebrated as National Work Health Safety and Environment (HSE) Day. It is followed by the implementation of HSE Month (12 January-12 February) as part of the effort to socialize a continuous national HSE movement. The Movement itself is for the purpose of implementing the provisions in Law No. 1 of 1970 and encouraging the independence of Indonesia with HSE Culture in 2020.

HSE is an important element that affects the Government’s success in improving the quality of Indonesia’s HR. Mr. Jokowi’s Government focus on HR in the second term must also include the creation of sustainable HSE programs in order to achieve zero accident HSE level. Without serious and sustainable HSE management, we can never generate reliable and productive HR.

HSE-related cases continue to increase in the work place. According to Employment BPJS data, the number of Accident at Work (AOW) from 2016 until now has been increasing. In 2016, there were 101,368 AOW cases with a total claim of IDR 833.44 billion. In 2017, there were 123,041 AOW cases with a total claim of IDR 971.62 billion. In 2018, there were 173,415 AOW cases with a total claim of IDR 1.22 trillion. Finally, at the end of September 2019, total AOW was 130,923 cases with a claim of IDR 1.09 trillion.

In September 2019, the biggest contributing sectors to AOW rate were processing industry (50,358 cases), major trading (9,559 cases), and transportation and warehousing (2,694 cases).

AOW rates continue to increase because most entrepreneurs do not care sufficiently enough about HSE, and do not even provide basic HSE equipment and facilities in the workplace. HSE costs are frequently viewed as unnecessary expense that would keep company profits down, instead of a crucial investment that makes sure that workers are safe and protected in the workplace. Furthermore, many entrepreneurs consider HSE to be the sole responsibility of Employment BPJS, i.e. that any AOW in the workplace will be covered by Employment BPJS. Such erroneous perception views workers as mere industrial objects.

Weak employment affair monitors significantly contribute to the increase of the number of AOW cases in companies. They are not at all strict when dealing with AOW issues. The number and quality of HSE-specialist monitors must be increased. Worker/laborer unions and individual laborers and workers are too afraid to report potential or actual AOW in their companies, and this is yet another reason why AOW goes unchecked over the years.

I hope that the Government (as the regulator) will consider AOW issues more seriously. Regulations must be made to delineate public mechanism to report potential and actual AOW to supervisors or the police, whether the reporting is done by the relevant worker/laborer, the worker/labor union, or ordinary citizens around the workplace.

Furthermore, very little is being done to prevent and treat Work-Related Illness (WRI), while WRI is a type of AOW that frequently occurs during and after work. The system for reporting WRI to Employment BPJS must be simplified in order to allow workers suffering from WRI to get coverage from Employment BPJS. This would help reduce National Health Security (Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional – “JKN”) expenditures, as most WRI cases are covered using JKN.

The Government has only been focusing on HSE for formal workers and mostly neglects informal workers. Accident at Work Security (Jaminan Kecelakaan Kerja – “JKK”) and Death Security (Jaminan Kematian – “JKM”) programs for poor informal workers must be created under a Fee-Paying Beneficiary (Penerima Bantuan Iuran – “PBI”) scheme, and HSE education must be provided to informal workers as a form of the Government’s care for them.

The celebration of HSE Day must be interpreted as a time for the Government to evaluate HSE development in the Republic. If AOW continues to increase, the Government must evaluate the situation to find the cause, and seek and formulate solutions for the issue in the future. National HSE Day should not end up being an empty annual ceremony not followed up by strict and swift attitude for improving work conditions and reducing AOW. HSE preventive and promotive actions must be taken constantly and massively under law enforcement. HSE management system should be integrated into the actual work system, as a unified, modern, and humane management system.

National HSE Day should not end just by celebrating every year. The Government must focus on ensuring that workers are safe and protected at work, while worker/laborer unions must in turn ensure that HSE is maintained in the workplace. Happy National HSE Day!