According to a daily sun report published yesterday, shockingly over 1,500 construction workers died in the last ten years. It is also mind-boggling that 30 per cent of deaths of workers in all sectors take place in the construction industry alone. Also, many of their deaths remain unreported and the numbers of workers that suffer injury and are maimed for life are supposed to be high.
It is not acceptable that rights to safety of more than 35 lakh workers engaged in the construction industry, who continue to propel the economy forward with about staggering 9.8 per cent contribution to GDP, remain mostly neglected. Clearly, the loss of lives and livelihoods due to accidents in the vibrant construction sector has a huge negative implication on the society, which remains overlooked.Though Bangladesh Labour Act 2006 and Bangladesh National Building Code 2006 were formulated to ensure safety of workers, these are observed only in their breach, being almost no authority to implement. Also, with appalling disregard of workers for their own safety, the issue of ensuring their safety at workplaces largely remains at the whim of owners and construction contractors.
As a result, though workers and their families are legitimately entitled to get Tk 1.25 lakh and Tk 1 lakh respectively for permanent injury and death, they hardly get the money. Owners, who are reluctant to invest even one per cent of their construction outlays for workers’ safety, spend a little as charity instead of paying them proper compensation.
Construction workers are mostly non-skilled who come from the underprivileged class of the society. It is awful to note that they are, in many instances, deprived of their rights to safety at workplaces, which is supposed to be provided by their employers. Practically, any accident puts victims in a great disaster, thanks to slack enforcement of the laws regarding workers’ safety. And, despite that the law has a provision for seven years of imprisonment in case of non-compliance, flouters remain largely scot-free and unpunished.
Steps should be taken to prevent recurrence of accidents in the construction industry through ensuring strict enforcement of relevant laws and to compensate the victims properly.