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Seven Workers Killed in Two Months at Bangladesh Scrapyards

workers killed at Bangladesh scrapyards
(file photo)

Published Oct 5, 2021 4:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

NGO Shipbreaking Platform is reporting that seven workers lost their lives in five separate incidents over the past two months at the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh. The group, which is leading the global campaign to improve the safety and environmental performance of the ship recycling industry, said the recent quarter was the worst in terms of the number of accidents in Bangladeshi shipbreaking history.

In the middle of September, the group reported that five workers were killed and three severely injured in seven separate accidents on the infamous shipbreaking beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh in August. Since then, two additional workers were also killed in two further accidents. The fatalities were caused by explosions, falls from height, falling steel plates, and exposure to toxic fumes.   

In the most recent accidents, a 26-year-old fell to his death while working aboard a crude oil tanker the Oro Singa that was recently beached. NGO Shipbreaking is also highlighting that the vessel had around 400 tons of sludge on board that needed to be removed before recycling.

Ten days after that accident, a 36-year-old working at a different scrap facility on the beach was hit by a falling steel plate. He had been working on the scrapping of another crude oil tanker, the Medan.

The other accidents reported in August included falling debris hitting workers, severe burn injuries, two workers dying after inhaling toxic fumes, and an explosion of an oxygen cylinder that killed another worker. The group reports that at least one of the accidents happened during an illegal night shift at one of the yards.

"Bangladeshi authorities need to face their responsibility to protect their citizens’ rights and ensure the effective enforcement of the law,” said Sara Rita da Costa, Project Officer for NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “Business profits can no longer be privileged at the expense of human lives. Urgent action has to be taken against the industry at both?national and international level to stop the incessant breach of basic human rights and environmental laws on the beach?of Chattogram."

The sequence of accidents in Chattogram, which increases the yearly death toll dramatically said NGO Shipbreaking not only shows a lack of responsibility by shipping companies as they continue to sell their end-of-life vessels to be broken under knowingly dangerous conditions but also a lack of action by the Bangladeshi government to regulate the industry.?

NGO Shipbreaking reports that twelve accidents, causing nine deaths and twelve injures, have been registered at one yard alone, SN Corporation, since 2009. In 2021, two workers died and five suffered severe burns at the yard. The 26-year-old also recently fell to his death at the SN yard.

The NGO continues to call on local governments to take action as well as the international community and shipowners to work only with approved recycling facilities to improve the safety in one of the most dangerous segments of the shipping industry.