Dhaka, Bangladesh
Ensure safety in mills and factories

Editorial

Ensure safety in mills and factories

Millions of workers in mills and factories across Bangladesh are now working under different workplace hazards. Occupational safety and health (OSH) is recognised as an indispensable workers' right as it deals directly or partially with almost of all ILO instruments. Full safety and healthy conditions at workplace are essential pre-requisites for a just society. In fact, we are deeply concerned that despite growing attention to OSH worldwide, reflecting increasing number of ratifications of relevant ILO conventions, there has been persistently high number of death tolls from work-related accidents and diseases. Bangladesh has ratified ILO convention 182 on worst form of child labour but a recent study revealed that child labour has increased despite huge campaign by many social actors who work on child labour. We are also concerned that the situation in the South Asian region is much more serious than other regions. Social and economic burdens of industrial accidents and diseases are not borne only by affected workers and their families but also by the community. In Bangladesh, we did not find any employers admitting occupational diseases. They say it has been inherited from his/her parents, not because of work in factories. This is very unfortunate and unacceptable. No employer has medical equipment to find out whether the disease came from the occupation. There is no social safety net or social scheme for those unfortunate workers who are killed or injured. Compensation for industrial accidents is very low. Injured workers are vulnerable to being unemployed for longer period or forced to low-paid jobs. Trade union is the most effective tool to ensure workplace health and safety since decent work is safe work which is only realised where workers' rights are respected. Unfortunately, national centres or national trade union federations are too weak in Bangladesh because of multiplicity of trade unions. However, basic union at enterprise level can play a vital role to have social dialogue with employers to ensure safe workplace. The government and employers also need to understand the importance of safe workplace and healthy workforce to achieve higher productivity and economic development of the country.

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