National, Back Page

No compensation for most workplace deaths

Published : 26 Aug 2021 10:03 PM | Updated : 27 Aug 2021 12:28 AM

Hundreds of workers die in workplace accidents in the country every year, but families of most of them don’t get any compensation due to negligence of the authorities concerned, and for legal complexities.

Legal experts and labour leaders said that the existing laws don’t evaluate the workers properly. Many families of workplace death victims and disabled workers don’t get the chance of claiming compensation, while many others face untold harassment to get compensation. Against this backdrop, it becomes impossible to ensure compensation.

As per the labour law, the maximum amount of compensation is Tk two lakh in case of workplace death, and Tk 2.50 lakh in case of permanent disablement.

Talking to Bangladesh Post on Thursday, Barrister Md Abdul Halim, chairman of Children’s Charity Bangladesh Foundation, said that the amount is very poor. The value of a life can’t be just Tk two lakh. On the other hand, the amount is not paid in most of the cases even for the workers who work in the registered factories, while the matter becomes more complicated for the private workers.

He demanded update of the law so that the compensation for casualties are ensured alongside ensuring some rights of workers and preventing incidents in workplaces as incidents happen mostly due to fault and negligence of owners.

Meanwhile, accidents and death rates in the workplace are not declining as expected. A total of 440 workers were killed and 108 others were injured severely in workplace accidents in Bangladesh in the first six months of 2021.

According to a recent survey of Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE Foundation), a total of 548 casualties took place in various workplace accidents across the country in the six months.

Among the casualties, 440 workers died, while 108 received severe injuries. However, 99 of the casualties took place in the formal sector, while the number of dead workers is 57 and injured, 42. On the other hand, a total of 449 casualties occurred in the informal sector. Among them, 383 people died and 66 were injured.

Asad Uddin, Program Coordinator of OSHE Foundation, provided a summary of the survey report to Bangladesh Post on Thursday.

The survey was carried out based on the 15 national dailies and on the basis of observations and information obtained from OSHE’s own field data collectors at OSHE field offices.

The survey revealed that a total of 222 casualties as well as most of the casualties occurred in the transport sector, while 99 in service sector (such as workshops, gas, power supply companies etc.), 84 in construction sector, 28 in shipbreaking industry, 18 in the RMG sector, 56 in the agriculture sector and 41 in factories and other establishments.

According to the survey, other causes of deaths include electrocution, falling from the roof, soil or stone collapses, being hit or crushed by any object, collapse of hills or soil, bridges, buildings, roofs and walls, fires; toxic gas in tanks or water tanks, lightning, physical abuse of domestic workers.

The survey report placed some recommendations to prevent workplace accidents. The recommendations include that Department of Labour, RAJUK and the government regulatory bodies concerned must perform their duties properly and ensure proper implementation of the law including strengthening the factory inspection system for all sectors; each organisation must provide its own safety and hygiene regulations including providing appropriate personal protective equipment to workers free of charge; the formation of safety committees in the factories, regular fire drills and provision of necessary training to workers on occupational health and safety measures.

Notable accident and casualties in the six months was five workers were burnt in a gas line leakage at Niki Dyeing and Finishing Factory at Sonargaon upazila in Narayanganj.

In addition, seven workers were killed and 21 were injured while working unsafely in the shipbreaking industry.