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SAM

Published:
2018-07-10 11:51:56 BdST

Permanent authority soon to monitor industrial safety


FT ONLINE

The government is set to establish a permanent authority to look into safety issues in all industrial units to ensure decent workplaces, officials said.

The state-run Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) has recently sent a proposal to the labour ministry in this connection.

It has proposed 123 manpower and eight divisional offices for the permanent unit, which will monitor safety in industrial units, the officials said.

The DIFE, in its proposal, also favoured setting up of a separate deputy inspector general office for the Export Processing Zones (EPZs), a ministry official said.

The government is going to introduce labour inspection in the EPZ factories by DIFE under the labour ministry, he said explaining the need for DIG Office there.

The proposal also included DIG offices for five zones including Dhaka, Chattogram, Khulna, Syedpur, Iswardi, Narayanganj and Cumilla.

When asked, Shamsuzzaman Bhuiyan, DIFE inspector general, said, "The main purpose of the industrial safety unit is to set up a permanent authority to look into safety in all industrial units."

After scrutinising the proposal will be sent to the public administration ministry, he said on Monday.

A total of 123 members will be required where 75 would be engineers, Mr Bhuiyan added.

According to the proposal, an additional inspector general will be the chief of the industrial safety unit.

The proposed unit would be dedicated to conducting safety inspection while overseeing factory remediation in the industries.

The Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) was formed for the time-being to complete post-inspection flaws-fixing work in garment factories under the national initiative, the DIFE chief said.

On the other hand, the industrial safety unit would be responsible for monitoring all safety related issues, he added.

After the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013, structural, fire and electrical integrity in a total of 3,780 garment factories were assessed by the Accord, Alliance and the National Initiative. The former two are western retailers' platforms.

During the launch of the RCC in May 2017, it was announced that the long-term vision of the RCC would be to evolve it into an industrial safety unit or agency, officials said.

It was also announced that the unit would support safety and it would be more efficient, transparent and contribute to an improved investment climate, they added.

Meantime, an non-governmental organisation (NGO) namely Safety and Rights Society (SRS), in a statement issued on Monday said workplace accidents during the last six months of 2018 have increased to 285 from 168 in the corresponding period of 2017.

Some 352 workers died in January to June of the current calendar year, which was 220 in the same period of the last year.

Its findings did not include workers' deaths outside the workplace or in road accident on the way to or return from workplaces by using public transport, according to the statement.

The highest number of workers' death-101 or 29 per cent-was recorded in the transport sector, followed by 84 in the construction sector, 79 in service sectors including hotels, workshops.

Some 51 workers died in the agricultural sector while the manufacturing sector including garment, rice mill, ship-breaking, steel/re-rolling mill, brick field claimed 37 lives.

Road accident caused 111 deaths, while 46 died crushed through falling machinery or heavy load or hard objects.

Electrocution caused 40 workers' deaths, while 39 died falling from height, hill or earth collapse, 24 from wall/roof/building collapse, 17 having suffocated by chemical or poisonous gas and nine in water/septic tank.

Some 51 farmers and fishermen died from lightning stroke. The remaining 15 died owing to causes including boiler/cylinder explosion, fire and drown in water, according to the Society data.

SRS executive director Sekender Ali Mina said it is the failure of the authorities concerned as they are unable to reduce the workplace deaths.

The actual number of the workplace deaths might be higher, he added.

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