Published:  12:21 AM, 06 February 2019

Why the workplace must be safe

Less than two years ago, a report on casualties at workplaces revealed that 1,242 people had died and 371 others were injured in workplace accidents in the country.

The report also noted that the death toll, with 270 casualties in formal sector and 972 others in informal sector, saw a slight rise in that year than what was in the previous year.

Transport sector saw the highest number of deaths (488) workers in the said period of time while construction sector, which has been reigning as a top in entrepreneurship in the lone metropolis (Dhaka) and other cities and urban centers, was the second highest in the list with 179 fatalities.

Among the other deaths reported 52 were in apparel sector, 99 in farm works, 103 are day- laborers, 22 domestic workers, 28 fishermen, 8 steel mill, re- rolling mill workers and 18 ship-breaking workers.

Workplace security, a national issue of far-reaching importance, is yet to be addressed properly in the country. This issue, which by any method of weighing should be placed in the priority list of the national agenda and be addressed by a comprehensive plan, still remains largely unaddressed. This is truly regrettable.

At the same time it seems quite ironical that on the one hand we are taking much pride in the fast growth of our economy but on the other hand we are showing indifference to ensuring safety of those who are acting as the key catalyst for our prosperity.

After the Rana Plaza tragedy on 24 April 2013 --- an incident that still terrifies the national psyche --- in which casualties according to official source death figure were 1,134, measures to ensure workplace security have been taken on various fronts were mainly focused on the readymade garments sector. Therefore, even though there has been a marked improvement in working conditions in the garment factories, the overall workplace condition in the country is very dismal.

The remedy should be an increased awareness of occupational hazards and joint action by the government, employers and employees to ensure security and safety in the workplace.

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