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216 workers killed in shipbreaking yards in last 15 years

  • Published at 10:46 am December 11th, 2020
TO GO WITH Bangladesh-environment-shipping,FEATURE by Cat Barton  (FILES) In this photograph taken on April 19, 2009, the skeletal remains of a ship are seen at a shipbreaking yard in Shitakundo, some 16kms from Chittagong.  Bangladesh's ship-breaking industry has a reputation for dangerous working conditions and environmental pollution that make it an unlikely candidate to go green. But a Dutch firm that has developed patented technology to safely dismantle "toxic ships"wants to transform Bangladesh's south coast into the world's first eco-friendly ship-breaking hub.  AFP PHOTO/Munir uz ZAMAN/FILES (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP FILES / AFP)
File photo of In this photograph taken on April 19, 2009, the skeletal remains of a ship are seen at a shipbreaking yard in Shitakundo, some 16kms from Chittagong AFP

75 workers have been killed at the shipbreaking yards in the last five years

The workplace accidents are continuing unabated at the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong as occupational safety measures are given short shrift.

As many as 216 workers have died in the last 15 years at the ship-breaking yards of Chittagong. Seventy-five workers have been killed at the shipbreaking yards in the last five years while seven shipbreakers have died in the current year.

Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), an NGO working for defending workers’ rights and protecting the environment, made the revelation after holding a press briefing at Chittagong Press Club on Thursday.

Reading out a written statement at the briefing, YPSA’s senior program coordinator Muhammad Ali Shahin said that the unabated workplace casualties has turned out to be a major problem of the shipbreaking and ship recycling industry.

“The image of the industry is at stake due to the workplace accidents. The number of workplace casualties is a pointer to the poor occupational safety at the shipbreaking yards. The number of green shipbreaking yards is increasing in India whereas there is only one green shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh,” said he.

The organization also put forward an 11-point of recommendation to ensure occupational safety of shipbreakers.

Inhaling dangerous substances like carbon dioxide and accidents and falling from dizzying heights of the vessels with no safety harness are major causes of workplace accidents in the ship-breaking industry. Other causes of workplace casualty include workers getting crushed under falling steel beams and heavy plates, cylinder, boiler and generator explosion, and electrical shocks.

According to Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association, out of 150 ship-breaking and recycling yards in Chittagong, only 60-70 yards are now in operation on the 25km strip of Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong.