COVID-19 and effectiveness of workplace health and safety in Indonesia’s key industries

Although many people are currently working from home during COVID-19 provisional lockdown measures, there are many Indonesian workers in crucial industries required to attend physical workplaces. Under the Government’s ‘New Normal’ policy, more workers will transition back to the workplace.


In May this year, the Government released a COVID-19 prevention guide for workplaces – ‘CoronaVirus (COVID- 19) Disease Prevention and Control Guide 2019.  The guide supports industrial workplaces operating in pandemic situations reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect workers.  As large-scale social restrictions begin to ease, how successful have these guidelines been in managing the virus transmission within workplaces, and in turn protecting community health and wellbeing?

The Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) has launched a Rapid Research project to understand the effectiveness of workplace health and safety guidelines. The project evaluates the implementation of the guide, identifies barriers to compliance and examines the impacts on economic productivity.

“There are close to 130 million people employed across Indonesian workplaces, said AIC project co-lead, Professor Fatma Lestari.

“People spend one-third of their adult life at work.  And the workplace forms a pivotal component of the public health response to disease transmission.”

The handling of the COVID-19 pandemic requires participation from all parties.  Employers, in particular, play a significant role in breaking the chain of transmission by doing what is needed to lower the risk of exposure to the virus.  Such measures include checking temperatures, providing sanitising facilities and masks, and enforcing social distancing.”

The study focuses on industry sectors which are deemed to have significant economic impact but a low risk of COVID-19 infection.  It evaluates four sectors: Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Construction, Manufacturing and Logistics and Goods transportation.  Three businesses will be chosen from each sector.

“We are interested in understanding how guidelines are implemented in the four sectors, especially related to areas such as detection and rapid testing, health surveillance and tracking systems. We also look at barriers and drivers of implementation of the guidelines, what other regulations are guiding practices in workplaces, and the guidelines’ impact on productivity,” said co-lead Associate Professor Margaret Cook.

The research team will consult policymakers from relevant government agencies, including the Indonesian Health and Safety Council and the Ministry of Labour.  The findings of the study will be shared with policymakers, including recommendations for industries, government and stakeholders to continue to improve their management of the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesian workplaces.



Co-leads: A/Prof Margaret Cook (University of Queensland), Prof Fatma Lestari (Universitas Indonesia)

Participants: Dr Kelly Johnstone (University of Queensland), Miranda Surya Wardhany (Universitas Indonesia)



Marlene Millott
PAIR Program Officer
+61 427 516 851


Fadhilah Trya Wulandari
PAIR Program Officer
+62 8124 3637 755



The AIC was established by the Australian and Indonesian Governments in 2013. It brings together 11 universities – seven Indonesian and four Australian – to advance people-to-people links in science, technology, education, innovation and culture. The AIC designs and facilitates bilateral research programs, taking research outcomes to policy and practice. It forms interdisciplinary teams that work collaboratively with stakeholders – policy, business and community – to find solutions to regional, national and global challenges.

Beyond research, the AIC’s outreach activities contribute to broader people-to-people links. It runs digital dialogues that seek to shed new insights. It supports the deepening of cultural exchange through a binational short film festival, explores respective national attitudes and perceptions towards each other, and brings together future leaders of both nations workshops, dialogues and other programs.

The Rapid Research program is part of the AIC’s Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research, funded by the Australian Government.  It is AIC’s front-foot response to a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact on Indonesia’s economy and society.  It brings together Sixty Australian and Indonesian researchers from the AIC’s consortium of 11 universities to explore three areas: COVID-19 People and Health; COVID-19, People and Connectivity, and COVID-19, People and Economic Recovery.


Photo by Devi Yahya on Unsplash