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Safety crisis in Bangladesh shipbreaking yards continues

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29 May, 2019At least eight workers have been killed, and 35 injured this year in accidents in Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards. The number of fatalities since 2017 is around 47.

The series of recent accidents point to a massive safety crisis in the Bangladeshi shipbreaking industry.

  • Five workers were injured in a fire in the Golden Iron Shipbreaking yard on 28 May. Two workers with severe burns are in hospital.
  • One worker died from electrocution on 20 May at the Bhatiari Steel shipbreaking yard.
  • On 15 May, a gas cylinder exploded, and a fire broke out Mahinur Shipbreaking Yard in Sitakund, killing two workers. Four workers injured in the same accident are in hospital. At the time of the accident, 70-80 workers were working on the site.
  • On 26 February, a worker was killed at the Habib steel shipbreaking yard.
  • An oil tanker explosion at Sagorika Shipyard on 18 February killed two workers.
  • One worker was killed at the SS Confidence yard killed on 28 January.

Employers’ negligence, coupled with poor inspections, a lack of implementation of safety measures by authorities, inadequate training on safe shipbreaking methods and workers unable to get appropriate protective equipment are major causes behind the accidents.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL shipbreaking director, says:

“The negligence of employers and government officials leads to frequent accidents and the Bangladesh Ship Recycling Act of 2018 needs to be strictly implemented.

“We reiterate our demand that the Bangladeshi government needs to move faster to ratify and implement the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.”

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary, says:

“It is unacceptable that the lives of shipbreaking workers are put at risk. IndustriALL calls upon the employers and the government to ensure that proper safety measures are in place.”

IndustriALL affiliates BMF and BMCGWF, together with members of Ship Breaking Workers' Trade Union Forum (SBWTUF) rallied in Chittagong on 19 May, protesting against the accidents and demanding improved safety measures and appropriate training for workers in the shipbreaking industry.