Risk in the workplace is not reducing in Bangladesh as there are no risk reduction activities visible till now to ensure safety for the workers of formal and informal sectors in working places.
Rights activists and researchers on the workers said that the working environment for the workers in the country is still not worker friendly, while the labour laws are not applied properly and there is a lack of skilled and trained workers in the formal and informal sectors.
For such reason of neglect in occupational hazards or risks, workers are losing their lives in working places every day. Many are maimed. As a result, the number of workplace fatalities has increased in 2022 compared to 2021.
Meanwhile, hundreds of the workers don’t get any compensation for suffering injuries or even death while serving professional duties. However, most of the workers coming from the informal sector are not covered by laws and regulations properly. So, under of their rights.
According to a study report of the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE Foundation), workplace accidents claimed at least 967 lives in 2022, mostly in the transport sector. The figure represented an increase from 2021 as the OSHE Foundation reported that 853 were killed in 2021.
The findings of the study were revealed on Friday (December 30) througha press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital.
However, the news of 967 workers’ deaths for the year represented the highest number of deaths since 2018 as 898 were killed in workplace accidents in that year.
This year’s death toll is higher than the average annual rate of workplace accidents deaths over the past ten years. According to the OSHE Foundation report, a total of 9,558 workers died in the workplace accidents in the last ten years, which is an annual average of 955.
OSHE Foundation carried out the study by analysing newspaper reports in 2022. The report, however, did not include deaths of workers outside their workplaces.
MdAlam Hossain, director (admin) of OSHE Foundation; read out the written statement and placed the findings of the study at the press conference, while MM KabirMamun, project coordinator of the foundation; moderated the event.Ishrat Jahan, programme coordinator of the organisation; MdSohel Sheikh, MdNurAlam and MdSumonHawlader of the organisation also attended the press conference.
The OSHE Foundation study found that lack of proper application of Bangladesh Labour Act and Bangladesh Labour Rules, the lax monitoring, shortage of the manpower of the monitoring bodies, negligence of employers and lack of proper inspection by government agencies are the main reasons behind the workplace accidents.
The failure of the departments concerned to implement domestic and international labour laws at the factories and working places, lack of modern construction equipment, lack of necessary training of workers and lack of skilled workers also contribute to the fatalities in the working places.
MdAlam Hossain said that the monitoring capacity of the regulatory bodies has not been developed in Bangladesh properly till now.
About the highest casualties in the transport sector, the director of the OSHE Foundation said that uncontrolled transportation system, violation of traffic rules and road transport law, reckless driving and incompetent drivers are the main causes of road accidents and death of drivers and helpers in their job areas.
According to the OSHE Foundation report, a total of 1,195 workers faced fatalities during their jobs this year from January 1 in 2022 to December 29 in 2022. Among them, 967 people were killed and 228 people were injured. In 2021, the number of workplace fatalities was 1089.
According to the report, a total of 246 workers in the formal sector and 949 workers in the informal sector faced fatalities in 2022. Among them, 152 people died and 94 people were injured in the formal sector. On the other hand, 815 people died and 134 people were injured in informal sector.
Among the 967 people who died in the formal and informal sectors, 24 were female workers and 943 were male workers. Among the 228 people injured in these two sectors, 28 were female workers and 190 were male workers.
The OSHE Foundation informed that the highest number of workers died in the transport sector out of 967 workers who died in the formal and informal sectors in 2022. The total number of casualties in this sector is 476, out of which 425 were killed and 51 were injured. Which is 40 per cent of the total casualties.
The service sector is next to the transport sector. A total of 270 workers were injured in this sector, out of which 211 died and 59 were injured which is 23 per cent of the total casualties. The service sectors include workshops, gas and electricity supply companies, hospitals, hotels/restaurants and government service providers.
Agriculture sector is after the service sector. A total of 139 workers were injured in this sector, out of which 124 died and 15 were injured, which is 12 per cent of the total casualties. Crop production workers, fishermen, tea workers, cattle and chicken farm workers are included in this sector.
During the year, 134 workers were injured in various accidents in the construction sector, of which 105 were killed and 29 were injured, which is 11 per cent of the total casualties. On the other hand, the total number of casualties in the manufacturing sector is 100, of which 67 were killed and 33 were injured, which is 8 per cent of the total casualties.
A total of 54 workers were injured in the garment industry this year. Out of this 28 people died and 26 people were injured, which is four per cent of the total casualties. The number of casualties in the shipbreaking industry during the year was 22, including 7 killed and 15 injured, which is two per cent of the total casualties.
According to the OSHE Foundation, a total of 15,259 workers faced fatalities in the workplace in the last decade (2013-2022). Among them, 9,558 people were killed and 5,701 people were injured. However, the organisation could not collect information related to this during the Covid-19 crisis in 2020. However, the data from September to December of that year has been added to the research report.
The OSHE Foundation recommended proper application of Bangladesh Labour Act and Bangladesh Labour Rules in order to avoid workplace accidents and enforcement of safety measures through the government regulatory bodies and also by the employers.
It also recommended increasing manpower in monitoring bodies and inspection by them. Introduction of a unit of occupational health and security was recommended by the OSHE Foundation. Amount for compensation and financial aid for the workplace accident victims by the state-owned Bangladesh SramikKalyan Foundation should be ensured and increased.
MdAlam Hossain said that safety measures must be extended to all the sectors with proper enforcement of the laws by government regulatory bodies. “We hope that the authorities concerned will soon take action to reduce workplace accidents,” he added.