24,500 workers die a yr | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 29, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 29, 2012

Work-related Diseases

24,500 workers die a yr

Speakers tell seminar

Employers must ensure safety and health of workers and make industries environment friendly as laws require, labour rights activists and high officials said at a national seminar yesterday.
Around 24,500 workers die of work-related diseases and 11,700 suffer fatal accident across all industrial sectors each year in Bangladesh, said Abdul Hye Mondal, a research fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, citing a 2008 WHO report.
Ministry of Labour and Employment along with Occupational Safety Health and Environment (Oshe) Foundation organised the seminar to mark the international day for safety and health at workplace.
At least 116 workers died in 205 accidents in building construction sector last year, said Mondal, quoting Oshe findings, while ship-breaking industry, considered a "green job", claimed 11 lives due to its hazardous work pattern. A total of 350 deaths occurred in road accidents, he added.
The government has 183 factory inspectors, and each of them, without logistic support, has to cover more than 5,000 factories, Mondal said.
There are 23 conventions of International Labour Organisation (ILO) on occupational safety and health, of which Bangladesh has ratified only seven, excluding three important ones, he said.
He also said industries must shift from fossil-fuel to alternative energy sources to create green jobs with decent and safe work, without which economic survival was impossible.
Though solar energy sector has created one lakh green jobs in Bangladesh, more than 15 materials used in this industry are hazardous for human health, he said.
Gagan Raj Bhandari, deputy country director of ILO Bangladesh, said legal obligation, adequate wage, social security, and dialogue between the employer and employee made a job decent. It becomes a green job if environmental safety is ensured, he said.
A legal mechanism should be in place to deny approval of a factory if its job is not safe, green and decent, said Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of Jatiya Sramik League.
Mikail Shipar, secretary to the ministry of labour and employment, said the government was going to update the labour law to widen the coverage of workers' safety and wellbeing.
Dr SM Morshed, acting chairperson of Oshe, chaired the seminar.

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