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Shipbreaking - graveyard for ships or workers?

13 November, 2018Two workers have died and seven have been injured in a series of accidents at the Sitakund shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh. 19 people have been killed in Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards this year, the highest number in eight years.

The latest accident happened at the Golden Recycling Mill on 7 November, when a furnace boiler exploded and injured four workers. One of the workers is in critical condition and is still undergoing treatment.

In another incident on the same day, a gas cutter was severely burnt at the Sagorika Shipbreaking yard, and two of his colleagues received minor injuries.

The previous day, 6 November, there was an accident at Arefin Enterprise where workers were working through the night, pulling iron plates. An end of the iron rope hit a worker so badly that he lost his life.

This accident was one of many, as the rule that no shipbreaking activities can be carried out at night time is often ignored by employers. With no concrete action against these violations, employers continue to flout the rules.

On 5 November, an iron plate hit a worker in the Golden Iron Works Limited ship-breaking yard at Sitakunda. He was rushed to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, where doctors declared him dead.

Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL director for the shipbuilding and shipbreaking sector, says:

“The industry is killing and injuring workers, which is wholly unacceptable. The Bangladeshi government should fully implement the 2018 Ship Recycling Act and comply with international standards on occupational health and safety, as well as skills development through training.”

19 workers have been killed in different shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh so far this year. It is the highest number since 2009, when at least 25 people were killed.

Apoorva Kaiwar, IndustriALL South Asia regional secretary says:

"Employers and authorities are clearly not learning from past incidents. IndustriALL strongly condemns this apathetic attitude resulting in workers losing their lives. We urge the government of Bangladesh to take stringent action against the culprits and create a safe and secure environment where workers can work without fear."