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Occupational accidents claim 100 lives

Jakarta Post - 9 October, 1997

Jakarta – One hundred construction workers have died in work-related accidents in the city [of Jakarta] already this year. Last year 101 workers died.

The latest victim was Khafidz, a tower crane operator at a 24- story project in Kuningan, South Jakarta. He died instantly when the crane's cab plunged 70 meters to the ground Monday. It is believed that the accident happened because the crane's axis was not functioning properly.

Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital data shows that most work-related deaths happened in August (18 deaths), followed by June and April (15 each), and September (13).

An observer and a city councilor both said poor law enforcement and poor government control was to blame for the high number of deaths.

Teten Masduki, head of the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute's labor division, and Saud Rahman, secretary of Commission D for development affairs, told The Jakarta Post it was time the government improved its control system and stuck to regulations.

Teten said that based on worker's safety regulations, employers failing to abide by laws could be taken to court and charged with criminal and civil offenses. Negligent employers could be charged with committing a corporate crime if they failed to provide adequate safety facilities for their workers, he said. Managements could be tried in civil suits for failing to ensure worker's safety, and their licenses could be revoked.

"Why does the government keep silent about the fact that the number of victims is so high?"

Control system

He said that to improve law enforcement, the Ministry of Manpower should activate its control system. "It still isn't functioning properly," he said.

Sanctions against negligent employers were too lenient and current laws did not anticipate the possibility of corporate crimes. "The large number of deaths in work accidents shows that workers' safety is still insufficiently protected despite the aggressive campaign on safety in construction work," he said.

Saud supported Teten's statement. The government should not give permits to companies which did not meet worker safety requirements, Saud said. He said the fact that 100 workers had died showed that the government's control function was not working properly.

He urged the government to pay more attention to workers' safety. "Don't consider workers as having no value as human beings," he said.