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Bangladesh' shipbreaking yards continue to claim lives

17 February, 2020Bangladesh is the top shipbreaking country in the world, but the industry’s dangerous working conditions have left two workers dead and more injured in the first weeks of February.

On 4 February, a worker at Fultola, Barawlia, died as the huge iron curtain he was cutting fell onto him. In August last year, two workers were killed and 13 injured at the same shipbreaking yard, which led to the government temporarily closing the yard.

Unfortunately, as the latest death shows, the previous accidents have done nothing to improve the safety situation in the yard.    

On 9 February, a worker at the Khwaza Kabir Steel shipbreaking yard was seriously injured as he was hit by an iron plate.

The following day a worker at the S N Corporation died as he was hit by an iron rope. Another worker was injured in the same accident, which occurred as the workers were pulling a huge iron plate off a ship.

Employers continue to undermine workers’ safety and neglect safe methods of recycling. According to a survey of known shipbreaking accidents in 2019, at least 24 workers were killed and around 79 workers were injured. In 2020 so far, at least four workers have died and eight have been injured.Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL shipbreaking director says:

“Accidents continue to happen, highlighting the fact that large number of workers still don’t have access to safety training. Due to the high level of precarious work, workers continue to pay the price for the deadly working conditions in Bangladesh’ shipbreaking yards.

The government of Bangladesh should follow its neighbour, India, and immediately ratify the Hong Kong convention for the safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. The government and employers need to work together with unions to improve the safety situation.”