OSH preventive programmes are key for business continuity and workers’ protection during the pandemic

The occupational safety and health (OSH) programmes play a key role in maintaining businesses’ resilience and continuity as well as in protecting workers during the time of crises, particularly the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

News | Jakarta, Indonesia | 02 February 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed a huge number of businesses in Indonesia. The crisis has not only disrupted business resilience, especially in the hospitality and restaurant businesses as well as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), but has also threatened the safety of workers and their families.

Restaurant businesses are one of the hardest-hit sectors by COVID-19 pandemic
Faisal Tjandraatmadjaja, Head of Business Certification Division of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) said that as of July 2020 as many as 1,174 hotels in 31 Indonesian provinces were forced to close their operations due to the spread of COVID-19 virus. The closures had not only caused the losses of Rp 85 trillion, yet had impacted 1.5 million hotel and restaurant employees who were at the risks of being laid off and furloughed.

"Their employments were even at risks of being terminated (PHK)," he said during the talk show titled “Encouraging SMEs to Promote Occupational Safety and Health”, jointly held by the ILO, the Indonesian Employers’ Association (Apindo) and PHRI on 25 January. Faisal admitted that although the hotel sector has shown an improvement indication by June 2020 with its 38.55 percent occupancy rate as shown by the data from Statistics Indonesia, the improvement has not yet reached the level of pre-pandemic of 52.37 percent in 2019.

MSMEs must be agile, learn digital skills, have the capability to assess risks and provide added value to the community."

Ronald Walla, Head of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises of Apindo
The MSMEs have also greatly impacted by the pandemic as shown by the data from the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs Development that almost half of them went out of businesses. The impact has caused a decline on nation’s economic growth considering the contribution of more than 64 million MSME units to the 97 percent of the total workforce and 62 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ronald Walla, Head of Small, Micro and Medium Enterprises of Apindo, underlined that the key to surviving this global pandemic is through adaptation and collaboration. "MSMEs must be agile, learn digital skills, have the capability to assess risks and provide added value to the community," said Ronald, adding that MSMEs need to improve their entrepreneurship skills that are in line with the character of industry 4.0.

Responding to the importance of digital skills, Business Development Manager of Moaci Gemini Semarang, Stefania Catharine, believed that the first step that should be taken by MSMEs to survive the pandemic was by shifting to online business and understanding occupational safety and health (OSH) principles. "OSH Education should be given not only to the workers but also to consumers, particularly to maintain cleanliness and implement a healthy lifestyle," she said.

The interactive talkshow of ILO, Apindo and PHRI
To promote OSH awareness and implementation at workplaces, especially MSMEs, Abdul Hakim, the ILO’s programme manager for the workplace COVID-19 prevention programme, emphasized the urgency for a collaborative OSH work among entrepreneurs, MSMEs actors, health workers and workers to maintain businesses’ productivity and resilience. “Strong OSH investment will be able to boost the company's resilience in difficult times,” he added.

Joint efforts in prioritizing OSH can be realized through social dialogues, collaborations and prevention efforts. The safety mindsets and behavioural changes will encourage preventive cultures that do not only benefit companies, but also workers."

Abdul Hakim, the ILO’s programme manager for the workplace COVID-19 prevention programme
Abdul added that through its Enhancing COVID-19 Prevention at and through Workplaces Project, the ILO together with its partners have provided a free COVID-19 risk assessment service to more than 1,500 workplaces in Indonesia. With the support from the Government of Japan, the service also aims to integrate the health education as part of the promotive and preventive efforts on OSH during the pandemic.

“Joint efforts in prioritizing OSH can be realized through social dialogues, collaborations and prevention efforts. The safety mindsets and behavioural changes will encourage preventive cultures that do not only benefit companies, but also workers,” he concluded.

Highlighting the OSH as an investment and not as an additional cost for the companies, including MSMEs, Wendri Wildiartoni, an OSH doctor from the Indonesian Medical Association for Occupational Health (IDKI), said that OSH mechanisms help companies to build a preventive culture and the protection of workers with an emphasis on zero workplace death would positively impact companies’ profiles and worth.

The talk show also marked the partnership built between the ILO, Apindo and PHRI to encourage the participation of 500 association members to take part in the ILO’s risk assessment services for COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. This service will support business continuity, workplace resilience and worker protection by increasing COVID-19 transmission prevention measures as guided OSH doctors. Through this service, business actors can identify, assess and manage distinct risks of COVID-19 of each workplace.

The live streaming of the interactive discussion can be viewed on ILO TV Indonesia.