388 die in workplace accidents in 2011

Dhaka, Jan 6, 2012: At least 388 workers were killed in workplace accidents across the country in 2011 matching the number of deaths that were reported to have died in 2010, says a report published by Safety and Rights Society.

The 388 workers died in 323 workplace accidents in 2011 while about to the same number of workers (383) died in 270 workplace accidents in 2010 indicating significant increase of workplace accidents (though not in actual numbers of deaths) last year.

Safety and Rights Society, an NGO working for ensuring safety and rights of workers, today (January 6, 2012) revealed the data when it published its report at its office in the city’s Mohammadpur.

The report is based on monitoring 26 daily newspapers (15 national and 11 regional newspapers) between January 1, to December 31, 2011. Safety and Rights is the only NGO to monitor regional newspapers as well as national ones. The report does not include deaths of workers outside the workplace or deaths of workers as a result of road traffic incidents.

The research found that the highest number of workers (183) died on construction sites, followed by deaths in factories and other manufacturing organisations (86), service organisations like hotels, workshops, power supply organisations (73) and others sectors (46).

Electrocution was the cause of the highest number of deaths (134 workers) while 74 died after falling from height (i.e scaffolds). 50 were crushed to death by machinery or hard objects.

The remaining 130 workers died from various causes including exploding boilers, chemical and gas explosions, fire, suffocation as well as earth, roof and wall collapses.

Sekender Ali Mina, executive director of Safety and Rights, said the actual number of the workplace deaths is almost certainly to be more than the numbers set out in the report as many workplace deaths are not reported in the newspapers.

He stressed the need for massive awareness among workers, owners and relevant stakeholders to reduce the number of accidents.

The organisation observes that most of the electrocutions occurred when iron rods carried by construction workers came into contact with live electric lines passing near the under-construction buildings.

It also observes that the workers fall victims to electrocution, as they are not provided protective equipment like wearing helmet, gloves, shoes etc during the work. The main reason why workers fell from high places was due to poorly made scaffolds (macha) and lack of ropes and harnesses.

The organisation proposes that there must be proper enforcement of the laws by regulatory bodies including RAJUK, and factory inspectorate. Employers should also establish health and safety policies for respective organisation, safety plan before undertaking construction work, providing proper PPE (personal protective equipment) free of cost, and health and safety training.

In 2009, the organisation identified 270 deaths, though the organisation did not monitor regional newspapers.

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