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A sad commentary on safety at workplace [New Age Editorial]

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New Age

Published on January 13, 2011

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A sad commentary on safety at workplace

THE annual study of the Safety and Rights Society, which reveals that 383 workers were killed in 270 workplace accidents in 2010, provides a poignant commentary on the state of industrial safety in the country. According to a report published in New Age on Wednesday, the number of deaths in workplace accidents in 2010 was higher than that in 2009 (227) and in 2008 (265). The surge tends to indicate increasing vulnerability of workers and sustained indifference of entrepreneurs to industrial safety, workers’ rights, etc. Notably, facts and figures on accidents and deaths mentioned in the study were based on local and national daily newspaper reports and thus, as acknowledged by the director of the organisation, are likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Meanwhile, it needs to be pointed out that most of the deaths have been caused by the accidents occurred in factory and construction sites, as the study says, like electrocution, fire, falling from high places, suffocation by poisonous gas, etc which, no denying, glaringly betray the sheer absence of minimum safety measures in different workplaces to be ensured by the owners concerned and lack of monitoring by the relevant authorities like factory inspectorate and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha to enforce existing rules and regulations regarding workers’ safety.

In fact, neither the government nor the owners, be it of a factory or of a construction site or of any other workplace, seem adequately appreciative of workers’ lives. It has been seen in almost all the accidents occurred thus far that following an accident the owners or their associations hasten to disburse some amount of money to the families of the victims, as if human lives have a price tag. On the other hand, the government has hardly succeeded to call the owners concerned to account for glaring non-compliance with industrial safety regulations and thus, in a way, given indulgence to the latter’s wilful aberrations. The overall situation depicted in the study mentioned above, however, is making people wonder how many accidents and how many deaths it would take to have the authorities come out of their indifference.

Be that as it may, in such circumstances, the working class in general and the workers of the specific factory or site in particular need to organise strong and focused movement with the demand with regard to compliance of industrial safety regulations. The conscious and conscientious sections of society need also to come forward and rally around such demands, needless to say.