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Bangladesh - February 1, 2022

Mason safety being ignored widely

1102 masons lost lives in a decade

Golam Mostafa Jibon: The safety of construction workers working at extreme risk is being neglected widely due to lack of application of the relevant law. As a result, the number of deaths from different accidents is increasing.
Meanwhile, at least 1,102 masons were killed in this sector in a decade. Not only construction workers, but also 1,053 people were killed in the three sectors of transport, construction and agriculture last year due to lack of proper safety measures in the workplace.
According to the statistics of Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS), construction workers are constantly becoming the victims of accidents. A large number of multi-storied buildings are being constructed across the country including the capital. Appropriate measures are not being taken to avoid accidents to the workers in the construction of these buildings. Workers are not provided with any life-saving equipment in the workplace.
Masons are being forced to work in unprotected conditions in multi-storey buildings. Even pedestrians are not spared from these accidents. As a result, the construction workers as well as the people in the vicinity and the pedestrians under the building are facing insecurity. Some are becoming paralyzed due to serious injuries.
According to the BILS report, at least 1,102 workers were killed in the construction sector in the last 10 years from 2011 to 2021.
Of them, about 154 masons were killed in 2021,. Earlier figures showed that 111 workers were killed in the construction sector in 2011, some 113 in 2012, 95 in 2013, 102 in 2014, 61 in 2015, 85 in 2016 and 134 in 2017. A maximum of 161 workers were killed in 2018, while 945 workers were killed in 2019. Then 156 workers lost their lives. In 2020, 729 workers died in various accidents at workplaces. Of them, 84 workers died in the construction sector.
The National Building Code provides detailed information on the safety measures to be taken by a worker but in most cases it is not followed. According to the 2014 National Building Construction Rules, workers are required to wear helmets while working. Those involved in concrete work should wear gloves and goggles while works as the sparking of light is harmful to the eyes. Protective equipment such as gloves, safety boots and aprons should be used, when using welders and gas cutters. The use of belts has also been made mandatory for the safety of workers, while working on the building. However, none of those can be seen in reality.
Lack of good staircase in the construction site and adequate lighting in the stairs, random use of rods, sand and bricks, lack of net at work or use of fragile nets, lack of crane arrangements, helmets, gloves, working barefoot, inadvertently and unconsciously are the main reasons behind the fatality, says BILS.
Entering confined spaces, working in the scorching sun, using faulty equipment, less rest; accidents are caused by poor scaffolding, wall or ground crushing, not wearing a belt while working in a hanging position, not wearing good shoes or boots, lack of modern equipment and faulty electrical lines.
Under labor law, employers have a responsibility to ensure the safety of workers in the workplace. Employers cannot hire anyone without ensuring the supply and use of workers’ personal safety equipment.
Despite such obligations under the law, inspections of several buildings under construction in the capital have shown that workers are working without safety equipment including gumboots, helmets and safety belts.
Abdur Razzak, general secretary of Building Construction Workers Union Bangladesh (INSAB) said, more than 37 lakh professionals are involved in this risky construction sector. In the interest of workers’ safety, the Labor Act calls for the formation of an ‘Industrial Health Safety Committee’ with representatives of employers, workers and local administrations. Although, there is a committee at the central level, there is no such committee at the grassroots level. As a result, it is not possible to put pressure on the employer or the employer to ensure the safety of the workers.

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