A worker died after falling off an electric pole at Carriage and Wagon Workshop of Bangladesh Railway (east zone) at Pahartali in Chattogram yesterday.
As the news of his death spread, agitated co-workers demonstrated on Ambagan Road in front of the workshop. They blockaded the road, disrupting vehicular movement from 2pm to 4:30pm, saying the accident took place due to an unsafe work environment.
Deceased Hafizur Rahman, 28, of Fatikchhari upazila was an electrician at the workshop.
He was declared dead at Chattogram Medical College Hospital, said Assistant Sub-inspector Alauddin Talukdar at CMCH police outpost. Hafizur's body was handed over to his family after an autopsy.
Saiful Islam, works manager at the workshop, said Hafizur was working on top of the pole, connected to a traverser (a sideways-moving platform for transferring a railway vehicle from one set of rails to another parallel set). While working, he got electrocuted and fell on the iron platform around 11:30am.
Meanwhile, agitating workers placed a five-point demand that included compensating Hafizur's family, hiring an adult member of the family to his post, maintaining proper work schedule in the workshop, providing workers with adequate safety gears and ensuring risk allowance and payment of overtime.
Seeking anonymity, a protesting worker told The Daily Star that workshop authorities hid the evidence and took the body to hospital in secret. He alleged that Hafizur did not have any safety belt and helmet on.
He even had to climb up the pole as no ladder was available.
Visiting the workshop, this correspondent saw that the spot where Hafizur fell was covered with sand and there was no sign of accident.
FM Mohiuddin, divisional superintendent of the workshop, refuted the allegations. “It was an accident. We did not intend to spoil or hide evidence. We tried to clean the place so that the environment remains work-friendly,” he said.
He claimed that they provided safety gears to the workers but they (workers) were reluctant to use those. “We will try to meet their demands after informing higher authorities.”
This is not the first time the allegation of lack of safety measures at the workshop has surfaced.
On March 27, 13 workers fell sick after inhaling toxic gas when a fire broke out there. Fire service officials said the incident occurred due to an unsafe work environment.
Moreover, workers did not have any protective gear on while extinguishing the fire, they added.
Regarding yesterday's accident, Sheikh Md Nasir Uddin, officer-in-charge of Khulshi Police Station, said an unnatural death case was filed. He refused to comment on the allegation of tampering with evidence.