Dhaka, Friday

27 May 2022

Business Insider Bangladesh

Weak laws, guidelines key barrier to ensure workplace safety: Speakers

BI Report || BusinessInsider

Published: 19:38, 12 May 2022   Update: 20:28, 12 May 2022
Weak laws, guidelines key barrier to ensure workplace safety: Speakers

Photo: Collected

The president of Light Engineering Industry Owners Association, Abdur Razzak, has said factory inspectors and factory owners indulge them in illicit practices when it comes to enforcing safety.

He said Bangladesh lacks an adequate number of inspectors and that those inspectors do not inspect the factories properly.

“Whatever number of inspectors we have, they do not inspect factories regularly. Even if they go, they come back with bribes,” Razzak said.

His observation came at a seminar titled “Industrial Safety Forum (ISF) in Bangladesh” held in the city on Thursday.

He said both the parties, the inspector and the owner of a factory are interested in illicit money transactions (bribe).

The association president told the seminar, jointly organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue and ILO, that Bangladesh’s small workshop with 4/5 employees and a factory with as many 2,000 workers operate under the same law, which is not acceptable.

He demanded for formulating separate laws depending on the factory sizes.

Other speakers said Bangladesh is well underway industrialisation but the safety issues are neglected in the factories due to weak laws and improper guidelines.

They said other than apparel, which is mostly export-oriented, most import-substitution industries lack safety measures for the workers.

A section of the discussants said the authorities also sought some amendments to laws for developing a prudent safety guideline.

The seminar discussed two issues: Role of public institutions in developing industrial safety framework and role in implementing Occupational Health and Safety regulations in the industry.

The speakers said although workers are the primary factors for industrialisation in the country, safety issues are largely neglected.

Taking part in the discussion as chief guest, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun noted that the first forum is a knowledge sharing platform for the stakeholders for ensuring a safe working environment in industries.

“When a factory falls into an accident, we highlight the issue. The inspector cannot punish the factory owners instantly,” said Chief Inspector of Boiler, MA Mannan

In the current law there is no obligation to appoint a safety officer who will monitor the safety of the factory regularly, he said.

Mannan said as the industries are gradually moving towards using the latest technology, only building rules, electricity and fire safety are being addressed.

“Occupational safety issues are not being considered. For the best safety, the factories need an integrated safety system,” the chief inspector said.

Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, a research director of CPD, said Bangladesh needs to create a safety culture across the industries to ensure the workers’ life and protection of assets.

“An accident kills a number of lives and damages huge assets. For the safe and progressive industry, there is no other option but to employ a safety system,” Moazzem said.

Lt Colonel Zillur Rahman, Director Fire Service and Civil Defense, said, old Dhaka houses a number of small industries that extremely lack any safety measures.

“All the authorities know about it but they cannot take any action because the economy of the locality will be affected. Therefore, the building owners should take responsibility to ensure safety of their respective facilities,” Rahman said.

He also informed the audience that only one fire fighter is there on an average against some 35,000 of people in the city.  

The speakers said there are also loopholes in the public university syllabuses for the engineers. An architect cannot design a building incorporating all safety measures which is another barrier to implement safety.

Chief Inspector of Boiler, MA Mannan sought magistracy to implement the laws. He said he had posted a demand-note to the government asking for 350 skilled manpower in different categories under his department, but there was no development. Mannan said a separate department is needed for implementing safety guidelines in the industries.


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