05 April 2014

Shipbreaking death traps: Worker safety turned into a plaything

WE are shocked and outraged at the death of four workers from a gas cylinder explosion at Sitakund ship-breaking yard in Chittagong. The point to note is that they were apparently untrained having been picked up and put straight on to the job, may be with some imprecise instructions at best. Nobody also made sure that they had put on safety gears.

 True to our culture of passing the buck, however, the owner's representative has blamed it on the workers! This is unacceptable and we demand fixing of responsibility coupled with punishment of the guilty. Unless examples are made out of the incompetent and callous employees and the employers are made to pay adequate compensations, the industry will never be streamlined. 

Despite a plethora of High Court directives, media exposes and oft-repeated environmentalists' concerns over utter lack of compliance with minimal safety standards, ship-breaking yards in Sitakund have been virtual killing fields. Inherently hazardous as the industry is, having to do with dismantling abandoned ships with highly toxic elements, safety precautions are to that extent extremely demanding.   These ought to begin with pre-certified selection of vessels through their second checking in our territorial waters and  cleansing to their final breaking into parts in yards by workers with safety gears on and under the watch of professional foremen.

Workers will have to be subjected to proper drill before induction and given refreshers' course from time to time. Overall, the apology of safety module needs to be firmed up and updated.

Source: the daily star. 5 April 2014

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