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Death at workplace increases for lack of monitoring

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06th-Jan-2018       
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A RECENT study by occupational safety, health and environment foundation [OSHEF] reveals that workplace accidents in Bangladesh claimed 1,242 lives and injured 371 in 2017. Of them, 270 workers were killed in formal sector while 972 others in informal sector. The highest 488 workers were killed in transport sector, 179 in construction and 52 in apparel sector. The data shows, the death toll rose slightly in comparison to earlier year while it was 1,240 in 2016.
The OSHEF foundation report further said, of the dead 99 victims were farm workers, including the ones killed in lightening strikes, while 103 are day- labourers, 22 domestic workers, 28 fishermen, 8 steel mill, re- rolling mill workers and 18 ship-breaking workers. A number of 179 workers were killed in the construction sites. In fact, the figure given by the OSHEF is partial which was prepared based on newspaper reports on some specific sectors. As per estimation by International Labour Organisation, over 11,000 workers suffer fatal accidents and 24,500 die from work-related diseases across all sectors each year in Bangladesh. Apart from it, about 8 million workers suffer injuries at workplaces - many of which result in permanent disability.
It is internationally recognized that most occupational deaths and injuries are entirely preventable, and could be avoided if employers and workers took simple initiatives to reduce hazards and risks at the workplace. But the authorities concerned remained indifferent over the issue for the reasons best known to them. Although compliance measures were taken to ensure safety at the RMG workplaces, they were not implemented fully in all factories. It's an open secret that there are more non-compliant factories than compliant ones in the country while BGMEA said they have listed 5,000 compliant factories. But industry related people said that there are 5,000 more outside that list. It's also a common practice that several compliant factories forward sub-contract orders to non- compliant factories. There are not enough labour inspectors to monitor all compliance measures also. As a result, the RMG sector becomes accident prone which resulted to 52 dead in the last year too.
The increase in road accident is nothing but the failure of BRTA and traffic department in implementing law where fake driving license and fitness corticated are available in exchange of bribe. The condition of other accident prone sectors is also the same due to lack of monitoring. It is more upsetting that the construction workers are not recognised by the Labour law 2013. Besides, the ILO has been working in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Employment and other dozen of organizations to foster a preventative safety and health culture by strengthening national occupational safety and health systems. But it has failed to bring any fruitful result.

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