Workers' safety must come first
We are shocked at the recent deaths of two workers at the shipbreaking yards in Sitakunda. According to our report, one worker was killed at Premium Trade Corporation Shipbreaking Yard after being hit by an iron plate and the other one, a worker of RA Shipbreaking Yard, was killed after inhaling poisonous gas. But as usual, the owners of the yards claimed that these deaths were due to other reasons, which is outrageous.
Deaths and injuries at shipbreaking yards are a regular phenomenon in Bangladesh. According to Shipbreaking Platform, an international organisation working for safety at shipbreaking yards, at least 16 workers were killed and more than a hundred others were injured in accidents at different shipbreaking yards in Sitakunda last year and a staggering number of 181 workers died between 2005 and 2016.
Needless to say, shipbreaking is a hazardous job and workers at the yards are exposed to all kinds of toxins which can cause serious damage to their health. Toxic materials such as asbestos, mercury and lead have serious health hazards and regular exposure to such toxins can lead to severe illnesses and even death.
While the shipbreaking industry is booming in our country, the safety of the workers has not been given a priority by the owners of the scrap yards. We believe that these two deaths could have been avoided, if the workers had protective gear which their employers should have ensured. Thus we demand that the authorities take proper precautionary measures for the workers' safety. Also, the relevant laws must be implemented by the government so that workers' rights are protected in the industry