3rd Round Table Discussion : OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH IN CONSTRUCTION SECTOR

Forum for Physical Development of Bangladesh (FPD) arranged a series of round table discussions on September 14, 2011 and October 15, 2011. As confirmation of those FPD arranged their third round table on 25th October. The third round table discussion was also regarding “Occupational Safety and Health in Construction Sector.”

The round table conference was presided over by Dr. Toufiq M. Seraj, Chairman, FPD and moderated by Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal, Executive Director, FPD. On the advent of the round table, Toufiq M. Seraj described the aims and objectives of FPD.

Held on: October 25, 2011.

Venue: Sheltech Lounge, Sheltech Tower.

55, Bir Uttam Kazi Nuruzzaman Road, (West Panthapath), Dhaka-1205

Participants:

  1. Toufiq M. Seraj, Chairman, Forum for Physical Development of Bangladesh
  2. Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal, Executive Director, FPD
  3. Tanveerul Haque Probal, Director, FPD
  4. Anisul Hoque , Deputy Editor, Daily Prothom Alo.
  5. Rafique Ahmed, Executive Director, Kusholi Nirmata Limited
  6. Bharat Chandra Biswas , Deputy Director (Operation), Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense
  7. Abdul Mukit Khan, President, Bangladesh Free Trade Union Congress
  8. Abdur Rajjak, General Secretary, Imarat Nirman Sromik Union of Bangladesh
  9. Mahbuba Akhter, Coordinator, Com. & Advocacy, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST)
  10. Sekender Ali Mina, Executive Director, Safety and Rights Society.
  11. Nurul Hoque , General Secretary, Bangladesh Nirman Sromik League
  12. Ahsanul Haque Khan ,Deputy Chief Architect , Dept. of Architecture, Ministry of Housing & Public Works

The Supporting Participants

  1. Planner Md. Ariful Islam, Research Coordinator, FPD
  2. Planner Md. Nazmul Ahsan, Research Officer, FPD
  3. Planner Nilima Nasrin, Research Officer, FPD
  4. Planner Mamun Chowdhury, Research Officer, FPD
  5. Planner Shakhawat Hosen Tanim, Research Officer, FPD
  6. Planner Jannatul Mauya Dalia, Research Officer, FPD

Dr. Toufiq M. Seraj, FPD is a forum for the professionals. People of different professions both from home & aboard can take part and give opinions in country’s development activities. Their opinion and experiences will enrich our thought process. The findings of these discussions will lead us to bring out a publication in a complied form which will be reference document for the concerned sectors.

RAJUK is not playing its role for the accidents in the construction sectors. They cannot supervise all projects for manpower shortage. In construction sector, some accident occurs for the poor foundation design. So safety has to be ensured in the design period. FPD is here to facilitate professionals’ opinions and ideas on this issue. Now Arch. Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal, Executive Director, FPD, will summarize the first and second round table discussion.

Arch. Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal, He gave a brief of the lecture presented by Arch. Nazmul Haque Khan, Managing Director & CEO, Shuvastu Development Ltd. in the first round table discussion. It contained the main purpose of conference, the reason why are we concerned about Safety. He also discussed about training and awareness procedure, safety regulation, legal aspects for safety in construction sector. He also described the safe work procedures, use of equipment and various types of accidents which are related in construction sector. Then he briefly described the summary of second round table discussion. It contained the main reasons to increase the rate of accident, role of Dept. of Inspection of Factories & Establishment, role of RAJUK and some recommendation to reduce the rate of accident.

Mr. Anisul Hoque , I like to thank Arch. Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal for his presentation. It helped us to know the summary of first and second round table conference. It is also praiseworthy that, developers are concerned about this issue.

Now a day, construction safety is a burning issue for our country. Accident rate is increasing day by day. This is horrible that the worker died for over bridge collapsed, also for cleaning the septic tank. Most of the time it occurs because workers do not maintain the safety rules like wearing helmets and safety shoes. People have no clear idea about labor law and the process of compensation. No regulatory body is found to inspect the construction site. So, it is necessary to incorporate the safety matters in the design period.

Media can play a vital role to make the general people concerned about the safety in the construction site. For our country it is essential to strengthen the role of media.

Mr. Rafique Ahmed, Thanks to the Forum for Physical Development of Bangladesh for this kind of initiative. The main cause behind the accidents in the construction site is the faulty design. There are shortages of land in our country. Engineers also prepare designs which are structurally faulty. These are the main cause behind any accident. In the design period the safety issues must be incorporated. In the development site workers are not familiar with the safety equipment. So, when they use it, the rate of production is reduced.

A system of mobile hospital can be introduced for the treatment of the labors. And for the bigger project ambulance and first aid services have to be available. Among all accidents sixty percent occurs for poor foundation. So foundation has to be strong. Besides those all project should also have insurance which will reduce the accident rate.

Mr. Bharat Chandra Biswas , In recent time fire service and safety is a vital issue. The role of fire hazard is increasing day by day. People are also dying in this kind of hazard. The main cause behind this is the faulty design and practices. BNBC contains some good suggestion for fire safety. Some important issues are lacking in the BNBC like, safety clearance and occupancy certificate. For the construction there are 3 types of measure for fire safety. These are 1st class, 2nd class, 3rd class.

The access facilities for the fire service are not maintained. Some roads are too narrow to reach. Some building are lacking of water source. This facility like water source and ladder facilities should be provided by the high rise building itself.

Mr. Abdul Mukit Khan, Thanks the organizer to arrange this kind of conference. We need a social revolution for this. Labor has limited knowledge about safety. They also show negligence. But government, owner, developers, and engineers everybody should pay attention to this. We have corruption in every sector. Contractors of RAJUK and the developers are corrupted. This is the main reason behind any problem. All the problems are result of

  •  Unawareness
  •  Dishonesty
  •  Corruption.

Mr. Abdur Rajjak, Thanks everyone from the union of Imarat Nirman Sromik of Bangladesh. To provide occupational safety and healthy environment, all activities related to building construction such as planning, design and construction needs to be regulated properly. The people who are involved in construction sector have to know the rules and regulations about safety.

Dept. of Inspection of Factories & Establishment and RAJUK should approve the safety plan. It is essential to describe precisely the role of RAJUK and properly activate the regulatory body, Department of Inspection for Establishment and Factory  to inspect the construction site.

The Bangladesh Labor Law, 2006 deals with the issues which is related to employment of workers, relationship between workers and employers, compensation for injuries arising in the course of employment, health, safety, welfare and environment of working conditions, etc. It is the base line for minimum compliance and must be followed by all employers, hiring labors for construction. But this law is considered as a Black Law for our country.

Observations of working conditions in workplace are to be monitored from time to time. These monitoring and training of the labor will lessen the accident rate.

It is essential to realize about the significance of law. It is also important to train up and force them to follow the rules. Mass media and the newspapers can play a vital role to bring this issue up and build up awareness about the safety in the construction site.

Ms. Mahbuba Akhter, We (BLAST) are undertaking work to improve the way in which health and safety law is enforced by state bodies. We work with the Inspectorate of Factories and establishments and other work related enforcement bodies with a view to enforce compliance of law. We also undertake strategic public interest litigation in the High Court.

Safety is not only concern of workers in Bangladesh. Training and advocacy are important for employers to comply with their legal obligations. It is also essential to improve existing health and safety law so that it offers appropriate protection to workers.

Mr. Sekender Ali Mina,  Different types of accidents occur in construction site. Most of the time worker dies for suffocating environment or brick falling. It has been also seen that the worker was electrocuted. This type of accident occurs for workers negligence. They do not want to wear any safety equipment. Safety supervisor is necessary to decrease the rate of accident. They must be liable to the top management.

It is very important to define the role of people who are involved in construction sector. There must have a written document. The management like, top, middle and supervisor must follow all safety policy. If any accident occurs then they work accordingly to follow the laws or policy.

It is essential to start certified courses for professionals. We must follow Bangladesh labor law 2006 and BNBC also which contains a chapter on safety. If we follow these two documents properly, then it is possible to lessen the rate of accident.

Mr. Nurul Hoque , A tension free happy and healthy life has to be ensured for the labors. This will increase their productivity many times. The working hour of the labor should not exceed the standard time. Safety rule have to be enforced on the workers. Labors must have to obey the safety rule. Those who do not obey the safety rules, they should not be appointed.

In Dhaka there are lots of hospitals and clinics. But in case of emergency accidents of the labor hospitals or clinic refuse to provide treatment to the labors. They refuge to take the labor in the emergency case. The owners and developers as well as government have to take initiative to solve this problem.

Weekly training of the labors will also be helpful for the labors. The owners should provide personal safety equipment for safety.

Engr. Tanveerul Haque Probal, FPD is a non- profitable forum. The main objective of FPD is to organize discussion, seminars, exhibitions on current issues with the participation of professionals and experts.

Most of the construction accidents occur from lack of proper training, unsafe equipment, unsafe site conditions, not using the safety equipment that was provided. The labors are not familiar with safety equipment. They do not use it when they work. So, it is necessary to monitor them properly. On the other hand, in labor law, it is also essential to clearly specify the labor and developers role.

When any accident occurs that time media can play a vital role. They have to bring this issue up and doing the right thing.

Arch. Ahsanul Haque Khan,  In Bangladesh there is a law of labor. But this law is not implemented properly. People also have no idea about this. Faulty design is another problem for construction sector. Proper design equipment is not maintained here. Time period is also a problem in construction sector.

Poverty is a key problem for our country. This problem is reflected in construction sector. Workers are hired for working long hours with low wage. They do not have any identification card. So, when they die sometimes their dead body is not found. It is also true that, labor is the most important productive asset to overcome poverty.

Less educated and semi-skilled laborers are frequently employed. We do not provide appropriate knowledge and skills to its workforce from beginning to end.

But it is essential to develop the skills and occupational training which would directly enhance the awareness of worker. Occupational safety and health should be part of our educational curriculum.

Workers are not the only people who face risks to their health and safety. This is not an individual problem. So, awareness is needed here. It is also essential for construction site to specify all issues, investigate the workplace and enforce law.

Arch. Kazi Anisuddin Iqbal, The role of the various contractors is unclear. Some contractors may try to transfer responsibility for safety to others. Subcontractors provide the labor and tools to complete the work. As per OSHA 1926.16, subcontractors are responsible for the safety of their employees with regard to their portion of the work. If a worker creates a hazard, the subcontractor must protect its own employees. To reduce construction accidents, it is essential to address construction safety in the design and planning phase.

I would like to thank each of you for giving your valuable time and attending our seminar. I trust the seminar provided you with good information about safety issues in construction sectors and some ideas about the way in which to implement changes smoothly. We will also be uploading your comments in our web site. Again, thank you for your participation.

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