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Workplace accidents kill 383 workers in 2010 [New Age Report}

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New Age

Published on January 12, 201S

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Staff Correspondent

Inadequate safety measures and equipment of poor quality increased the number of death at work in the country in 2010.

Safety and Rights Society in an annual study based on reports published in national and local daily newspapers said 383 workers were killed in 270 workplace accidents in 2010 compared with 265 deaths in 227 workplaces the year before.

The report said the highest number of workers, 152, died in factories 142 more died in construction sites.

Ninety-eight were electrocuted at work, 92 died in fire, 51 died after falling from high places and 26 died from suffocation caused by poisonous gas, the study said.

The study report also said 116 more workers died in various incidents such as boiler, chemical or gas explosion, earth, roof or wall collapse, being hit by objects or being entangled in machines.

The causes of accidents at work were listed by monitoring newspaper reports and visiting the spots.

Fire Service and Civil Defence deputy director Bharat Chandra Biswas said, ‘We observed that fire extinguishers were not available in all of the factories where such accidents took place.’

He said the workers were also not properly aware of what to do in case fire breaks out as no fire drill is conducted.

Unauthorised construction, lack of fire exit and panic increase the risk and loss in accident, he added.

Brushing aside the allegations of having inadequate equipment, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association president, Abdus Salam Murshedy, said the situation in factories were now different what it used to be in the early 1990s.

Most of the high-rise apparel factories outside the capital are compliant and purpose-built factories and they are well-equipped as far as safety is concerned, he said.

‘As for recent incidents, we have seen that the local fire service people reached the spots in 10 minutes, but the sky-lift and tall ladders available only with stations in Dhaka reached the spots almost two hours late.’

Murshedy stressed the need for training of workers in using fire extinguishers and for creating awareness of fire among the workers.

The Safety and Rights Society programme director, Sekendar Ali Mina, said the number of deaths set out in the report was likely be a severe underestimation as many deaths are not reported in newspapers.

The organisation observed that most of the electrocutions take place when iron rods carried by construction workers come into contact with live electric wires.

It also observed that the workers are electrocuted as they do not take safety measures at work. The main reason for workers falling from high places was poorly made scaffolds.

The organisation suggested proper monitoring by regulatory bodies such as Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha and factory inspectorate to enforce relevant laws for safety of the workers.