National, Front Page

Workplace safety a crying need

Published : 28 Apr 2023 10:37 PM

Although safe workplace is crucial for sustainable development and ensuring fundamental human rights, the issue of safety at workplace still remains one of the greatest challenges in less economically developed countries. 

The growing number of occupational accidents and diseases as well as safety measures in workplace attracts the attention of developed countries. However, people in the developing countries face more global occupational hazards.

Alongside many other developing counties, Bangladesh still faces problems regarding the safety issue at workplace. 

Ministers, high officials from the departments concerned, leaders of trade bodies, rights activists and the people who work on the issue of labour right have said that everyone has to work together to overcome the problems at workplace.

Speaking at events on the National Occupational Health and Safety Day - 2023 on Friday, they said that a safe and healthy working environment is a fundamental right for workers. 

Speaking at one of the events as the chief guest, Law Minister Anisul Haq stressed that the observance of safety rules at workplaces and ensuring a decent working environment is crucial for sustainable development.

He said that health care and safety at the workplace is a fundamental right of every worker. “The issue of compliance with safety rules at workplace, ensuring safe and pleasant work environment have become very important worldwide in the recent time to ensure sustainable development. Ensuring occupational safety in factories and other workplaces currently are not limited to the whims of government or factory owners anymore. Ensuring pleasant work environment has now become responsibility of the factory owner,” the minister said at a discussion. 

Anisul Haq called upon all stakeholders to ensure a safe and decent working environment for the realization of the right of the workers. He also called upon the workers and owners to work together to establish occupational health and safety as a national culture.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment arranged the discussion at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the city on the occasion of the National Occupational Health and Safety Day.  

State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian, MP, spoke at the discussion as special guest with Md. Ehsan-e-Elahi, secretary of the ministry, in the chair. 

Md Nasir Uddin Ahmed, inspector general at the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE); Khaled Mamun Chowdhury, director general of the Department of Labour; Joe Goodings, Head of Development Cooperation at the High Commission of Canada to Bangladesh; Tuomo Poutiainen, ILO Country Director for Bangladesh; Ardashir Kabir, president of Bangladesh Employers' Federation (BEF); and Khasru Chowdhury, acting president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association; spoke on the occasion, among others. 

This year’s theme for the National Occupational Health and Safety Day is ‘Ensure a decent working environment, build a smart Bangladesh.’

In her speech, Begum Monnujan Sufian said that they have taken initiative to amend the labour law to protect the rights of workers. They have also started the work to include all the labourers working in the formal and informal sectors in a database under Bangladesh Labour Information Management System project, she informed. 

“We have taken the initiative of introducing pension for all the labourers. We have taken initiative to amend Bangladesh Labour Act afresh for the safety of labourers. After amendment of the law, it will be effective in the economic zones as well,” said the state minister. 

She also said that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has been set up in Rajshahi to provide workers with a clear understanding of occupational diseases, research in prevention, training to raise awareness among employers and workers. 

In his speech as the chief guest, Anisul Haq said that it is a must to maintain international standards in every sector of production including ensuring the health security of the labourers and welfare measures at the workplace. For this reason, there is no alternative to a safe and decent work environment.

He emphasised that ensuring occupational safety in factories and establishments is not solely the responsibility of the government or factory owners. Instead, it has become a liability for the factory owners.

The Bangladesh Labour Act and Bangladesh Labour Regulations mandate that workplaces be safe and dignified for workers, and this requirement is now recognized internationally, he said.

As Bangladesh moves towards becoming a developed country, occupational safety should be given great importance, he added.

He emphasised the need for joint initiatives to ensure a decent working environment, including the proper implementation of the Bangladesh Labour Act and Bangladesh Labour Rules.

He called for working sincerely towards ensuring a decent working environment for workers.

The implementation of these measures will go a long way in protecting workers' rights and promoting sustainable development in Bangladesh, he added.