Our impact, their voices

Indonesian youth champion safety and health at work

The ILO’s work to promote youth engagement in occupational safety and health (OSH) in Indonesia has inspired young people to carry out their own initiatives and make a difference in their local communities.

Feature | 27 April 2018
JAKARTA (ILO news) - Nur Chariroh S. Iskandar, a student, is preparing a workshop on occupational safety and health (OSH) at her university in Yogyakarta. In Palembang, also in Indonesia but more than 800 kilometres away, M. Farid Alharsi, a young construction entrepreneur, is disseminating information on OSH to his employees, to officials and to young people.

Nur Chariroh S. Iskandar shares her OSH knowledge with her classmates

Encouraging youth participation in Indonesia

The participation of Indonesian youth in promoting OSH is crucial. About half the 130 million population is under the age of 30. Many young workers in Indonesia work in sectors with a high risk of workplace accidents and disease, such as the construction sector.

Many of the more than 8 million construction workers, a large proportion of whom are young workers, lack sufficient knowledge of work-related hazards and risks, while a lack of bargaining power can lead young workers to accept dangerous tasks, or jobs with poor OSH conditions.

The ILO has two projects to improve youth participation in OSH. The Youth4OSH project seeks to reduce workplace injuries, fatalities, and occupational diseases through increased preventative actions by young workers and young employers in Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Viet Nam, and is equipping networks of intermediaries with tools and skills to promote OSH. The SafeYouth@Work project aims to improve OSH among workers up to the age of 24, and to build a culture of prevention on OSH.

During the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Singapore in September 2017, the ILO organized a SafeYouth@Work Congress*. A total of 124 Youth Champions were chosen from 29 countries to participate, prototyping their own solutions to OSH challenges facing youth, and establishing an international network for youth OSH. Iskandar and Alharsi were among the nine selected from Indonesia.

Spreading OSH knowledge in the community

Since participating in the Congress, Iskandar has continued to share her OSH knowledge at her university. She has conducted two interactive sessions on OSH for youth with her lecturer and classmates. “I emphasized the particular importance of OSH for young workers,” she said.

M. Farid Alharsi, a young construction entrepreneur, is sharing information on OSH with young people
Alharsi has been similarly active in promoting OSH awareness. He has organized briefings with the Mayor of Palembang and the Indonesia Young Entrepreneurs Association (HIPMI), gave interviews to local TV, and ran a social media campaign together with Youth Champions for OSH from other countries.

Most of the people Iskandar and Alharsi reached out to initially had little understanding of the importance of OSH in their daily lives.  “Some of my entrepreneur colleagues still think of OSH as a cost and burden to the company and they do not see OSH as an important issue,” said Alharsi.

As a result of her work, Iskandar has witnessed positive changes in her classmates’ perceptions. “They have started to look for more information, realizing that they have the right to good OSH protection when they enter the world of work,” she said. Two of her classmates are now interested in working with her to organize OSH awareness-raising sessions for students from other universities.

Alharsi is continuing his efforts to change the mindset of local employers, and has made changes to the operations of his own construction company, such as appointing a safety officer.

“Today, after being provided with more data and information, HIPMI has begun to pay more attention to OSH prevention and action, and begun to understand that action to address OSH is actually beneficial for companies. For my own company, my employees have started to make safety a positive habit. In the past, safety gear was provided and available, but the workers were reluctant to use it. Now, the workers use the appropriate safety gear,” Alharsi said.

The ILO Country Office for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, for its part, has initiated a one-year campaign to ensure that OSH is integrated into all programmes of the Country Office. For example, OSH issues will be considered in the context of the fisheries sector, palm oil sector, small-sized and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), collective bargaining, and labour compliance. This concerted effort will go a long way to making OSH everybody’s business in Indonesia.

For further information, contact

Gita F. Lingga
CO-Jakarta ILO Communications Officer
Tel.: +6221 391 3112 ext. 112
Email: gita@ilo.org

*At the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Singapore, UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake joined ILO Director General Mr. Guy Ryder and SafeYouth@Work Champions in calling on partners to join their commitment to making young people safer and healthier at work. 124 Youth Champions worked together on an Action Plan to build a culture of prevention on occupational safety and health (OSH) for youth that will resonate with the broader OSH community.