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Learning good practices in implementing “new normal” health protocol in the workplace

As Indonesia has shifted from the “large scale measures of social distancing” to “new normal” phase, businesses gradually resume their operation. New protocols are needed to ensure workers’ health and safety at work while maintaining sustainable business operation.

This Article is taken from ILO website

To share good practices and challenges in implementing the new protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ILO in collaboration with UNDP, Indonesia Global Compact Network (IGCN) and WHO conducted a joint workshop titled “Health, Safety and Environmental Standards at Work in General” on 6 August 2020. This workshop was a part of workshop series on Business Unusual in the New Normal in Four Industries jointly held by the three UN agencies and IGCN.

The government has prepared seven strategies ranging from transmission prevention at work, business continuity plan, social security and OSH. These strategies have been translated into ministerial regulations and distributed to local governments and industry players.
Ghazmahadi, Director of Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Norm Supervision, Ministry of Manpower

Ghazmahadi, Director of Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Norm Supervision, Ministry of Manpower, highlighted that the pandemic does not only bring terrible health impact but also damages the economy and increases unemployment. The occupational safety and health (OSH), therefore, should become a priority when reopening businesses to protect both workers’ health and productivity as well as businesses’ continuity.

“The government has prepared seven strategies ranging from transmission prevention at work, business continuity plan, social security and OSH. These strategies have been translated into ministerial regulations and distributed to local governments and industry players,” explained Ghazmahadi.

We continuously socialize health protocols at work so that all workers are fully aware of the protocols and are able to maintain their healthy behaviour.
Agung Laksamana, Director of Corporate Affairs of the APRIL Group, a leading manufacturer in the paper and pulp industry

Companies have taken necessary measures as demonstrated by APRIL Group, a leading manufacturer in the paper and pulp industry. They, for example, have performed swab tests to everyone entering their plantation sites and employee’s residences. Agung Laksamana, Director of Corporate Affairs, said that the company’s priority is to protect the employees, their families and surrounding communities while maintaining uninterrupted business operation.

“We continuously socialize health protocols at work so that all workers are fully aware of the protocols and are able to maintain their healthy behaviour. By managing regular communication with the workers, the company can also identify challenges in the field and immediately seek the best solution,” Agung shared good practices in dealing with the pandemic.

Not only big companies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have also taken necessary measures to survive amid the pandemic. Muhammad Satrianugraha, the owner of PT Stranough Firma Indonesia, a guitar producer, admitted that this pandemic had shaken numerous SMEs, mainly those that produce a non-primary product like his company.

To maintain the health protocol, we have shifted to online platform to avoid direct contact with customers and allow the employees to take leave if they experience health symptoms, even the mild one.
Muhammad Satrianugraha, the owner of PT Stranough Firma Indonesia, a guitar producer

“To maintain the health protocol, we have shifted to online platform to avoid direct contact with customers and allow the employees to take leave if they experience health symptoms, even the mild one. We have an increase of 25 percent sick leave during the pandemic, but we assure to keep our employee safe and stay,” said Muhammad.

Meanwhile from the perspective of workers, factory workers face different challenges in implementing the health protocol. Prihanani, Vice President Foreign Affairs of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), said that the physical distancing is hardly applicable for a factory with thousand workers. “Therefore, temperature check, use of masks and hand washing are the key measures. By placing the hand washing facility nearby the work station, for example, can encourage workers to maintain their hygiene during work.”

By placing the hand washing facility nearby the work station, for example, can encourage workers to maintain their hygiene during work.
Prihanani, Vice President Foreign Affairs of the Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

The workshop concluded that different types of companies require different health protocols. Further dialogues between employees and employers were needed to address these different needs. Intervention from the government also needed to control the implementation.

The next sessions of the workshop series will further discuss the detail protocols in four priority sectors: Food industry, transportation (land, sea and air), mass gathering (event organizer and sports) as well as hotel and tourism. These four industries are selected due to their high risk, labour intensive and important roles in economic recovery.

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