DHAKA (ILO News) – Bangladesh proudly celebrated its fourth National Day on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) on 28 April, 2019 with morning rallies and truck shows in various districts including Dhaka.
To mark the occasion, the Government of Bangladesh presented OSH Good Practice Awards to 24 companies from the apparel, finished leather, jute, pharmaceutical and tea sectors. The enterprises were all honoured for maintaining consistently high safety and health standards in their respective factories.
Honourable Commerce Minister, Tipu Munshi and Honourable State Minister of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms Munnujan Sufian handed over the awards to representatives from Plummy Fashions, Wisdom Attires, Nafisa Apparels, Mother Colour., Fatullah Apparels, Comfit Composit Knit, Layla Styles, Epyllon Styles, Ecofab, Ananta Garments, Crown Wears (Pvt), Zaber & Zubaer Fabrics., Square Pharmaceuticals, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi Bangladesh., Maf Shoes, Apex Footwear, Picard Bangladesh, Zareen Plantation, Shumshernugger Tea Estate, Janata Jute Mills, Wahab Jute Mills and Northern Jute Manufacturing Company at a ceremony held at the Krishibid Institute in Dhaka today (28 April 2019).
At the event, the International Labour Organization (ILO) received a special award from Bangladesh government in recognition of its 100 years of service in promoting social justice and decent work.
Globally, an estimated 2.78 million workers die each year as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases. Additionally, some 374 million non-fatal work-related injuries occur each year all over the world. Most of these deaths and accidents are preventable. With an aim to create awareness about the prevention of casualties at work, the ILO introduced the World Safety Day (28 April) in 2003.
In Bangladesh, 28 April is marked as National OSH Day, and was first celebrated in 2016, under the auspices of ILO’s RMG programme launched in 2013 to improve working conditions in the ready-made garment industry. With the continued support of the governments of Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the programme has trained all newly recruited DIFE labour inspectors and more than 800,000, workers, trade union members and managers on occupational safety and health.
As the Chief Guest of the ceremony, Mr Tipu Munshi said, “Occupational safety and health must be our common and collaborative goal. It is important to look after our workers. Otherwise how will they be productive?”
Ms. Sufian, Chairperson of the event said, “To make our industries safer, two government department – Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and Department of Labour (DOL) are working tirelessly.”
The Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms. Ummul Hasna spoke about the significance of the OSH award. “Business productivity relies on technological innovation, skilled workforce and most importantly a safe and healthy work environment. Our Ministry introduced the OSH Good Practice award in 2018 to inspire the business community to look after the welfare of their workforce. Today it gives us great pride to extend the awards beyond the RMG sector and into other important industries too.”
In Bangladesh, health and safety compliance in factories and enterprises is monitored by DIFE under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. In his vote of thanks, Inspector-General of DIFE, Mr Shibnath Roy, congratulated the award winners and said, “To continue the economic growth of the country, we must ensure safe workplace and improved working conditions for all our workers.”
Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director of ILO Bangladesh, commended the Bangladesh government, DIFE, national employers and workers organisations, the Fire Service, the Accord and Alliance/NIRAPON for their collective efforts to establish a culture of workplace safety in Bangladesh. “The RMG industry of Bangladesh increasingly has the know-how to safeguard its workers from industrial accidents and poor working conditions. It is now time to apply these lessons to all industries. I am delighted to see that four more sectors have been recognized for OSH good practices this year. The ILO stands ready to support any new initiative to build a culture of safety and health in all workplaces,” he said.
On behalf of the development partners, High Commissioner of Netherlands in Bangladesh H.E. Harry Verweij said, “While we are working with the government to enhance Occupational Safety and Health, we are also urging the buyers and brands from our countries to be more responsible in their sourcing and to support improvement of working conditions in Bangladesh”.
Representing workers organization, Secretary General of Sramik League, Fazlul Haque Montu said that safety and health benefits at work is the right of every worker.
Kamran T Rahman, President of Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF) emphasized on standardizing the systematic collection of OSH-related data to monitor workplace safety. “I am glad to see that DIFE is centralizing all labour inspection data on a digital platform called LIMA.”
In her message, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Rubana Huq highlighted the work of the BGMEA in improving OSH. “BGMEA has a special cell to train workers on fire safety, emergency evacuation and first aid. We will try to increase these efforts in future.”
Acting President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKEMEA), Monsur Ahmed said, “Making our factories safer will draw buyers’ interest and improve the reputation of the RMG industry globally.”
To improve workplace safety in all industries, the ILO is presently working with the Government of Bangladesh to formulate a broader OSH profile and a national action plan (NPA) based on the lessons learned, best practices and the tools developed under its RMG programme.