Home | Back Issues | Contact Us | News Home
“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 207
February 26, 2011

This week's issue:
Judgment Review
Rights Corner
Human Rights Monitor
Laws for Everyday Life
Law Lexicon
Law Week

Back Issues

Law Home

News Home


Human Rights Monitor

Work-safety at risk

Ershadul Alam and Sharmila Islam

Safety at work is one of the major issues in modern employment sector. Today, employment is not all about production and business oriented activities, rather it involves many other relations amongst the concerned groups of people. Safety at work is a part of occupational issues which simultaneously affects and is affected by employer-employee relations, production and business pattern and scores of interactions prevailed in the society. The term 'occupational issue' broadly includes injury, impairment or dieses affecting an employee during and related to the course of his service in a particular work place. The modern industrial safety movement was started in 1912.

To give effect to the term, 'work place', it does not mean only a particular place where an employee delivers his service only, it may include any place if public are affected by any involvement of the employees or the employment. Hence, the area of responsibility in occupational health and safety is wider beyond a particular place or person.

The relations between compliance at work and welfare for workers are established in contemporary concept of employment where right and duty follows each other. Right to employment means right to work in a safe and secured place where the lives of the employees will be free from any risk and hazard which may have negative effect to the body or mind of the employees and their families. But, right cannot walk alone, when right walks, the duty also follows. Therefore, the duty of all concerned is an important factor in ensuring the right to safe working place. There exists a multilateral responsibility matrix in this regard.

Who bears the sole responsibility to ensure safety at work? The largest part of national and international laws and regulations put the responsibility upon the employers. But the employees were not freed from responsibility. The employer is primarily responsible to take reasonable care to the safety of the employees at work. International law has extended the area responsibility of the employer in different area of jobs. Based upon the category of jobs, provision of special responsibility has also been ensured in international labour rights instruments. Besides, special responsibility to care is also ensured for the employees with disabilities.

Safety at work concerns us more than anyone living in the developed country. We experience a large number of casualties in our country which call for taking safety measures at work place with an utmost importance. But regrettably enough, we observe the same kind of negligence in every work place. After an accident is occurred, the safety issue is focused by the media and in course of time is forgotten by as well and the offence goes unpunished.

Both ignorance and disobedience of law are responsible for unsafe condition at work place. This sort of ignorance and disobedience prevails both in the employers and the employees and last but not the least with the government. The role that should have been played by the government in this regard is largely missing. Most factories are not equipped enough to provide adequate safety to the workers. It has been the common practice in our country that the workers do not wear proper clothing and even they are not trained up to do the same. For lack of training and skill, the casualty reaches at an unpredictable height which is beyond the limit of logical or reasonable consequence of an accident. In addition, insufficient lighting, unavailability of emergency exit and transparent door and safety alarm etc give rise to the hazards. No significant precautions are taken to avoid accidents and to minimize the casualty after the accident. The law enforcing agency also plays a passive role in implementing the law regarding safety and security for the work place.

The basic principle of right to employment and related issues are enshrined in Article 20 and some other articles of our constitution. However, specific safety and health related provision is not available in the constitution. But guided by fundamental principles of state policy, fundamental rights and international human rights instruments, we have formulated special law in this regard. Health and safety is included in the Labour Laws of Bangladesh, 2006. Chapter Five of the Act provisioned for health related rights and duties by all concerned in a work place. Safety and security of work place is referred to in Chapter Six and Seven of the Act. Provision for compensation is also there in Chapter Twelve of the Act. The Act has extensively included the required health and safety issues in it. But in practice, its implementation is a far cry.

(to be continued...)

The writers are Lawyer and Journalist respectively.

International death penalty
abolition day

1 March 2011 -- This day marks the occasion in 1847 when the U.S. state of Michigan became the first English-speaking territory in the world to abolish capital punishment. The death penalty is a violation of human rights, as stated in Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In 2009, the last year for which worldwide data is available, there were at least 714 known executions in 18 countries. This figure does not include executions in China, which were estimated to be in the thousands. China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the United States were the five countries who carried out the most executions.

International law related to capital punishment is evolving. There is currently only one universal treaty banning executions and aiming for the total abolition of the death penalty: The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Protocol, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, requires states that have ratified it to renounce definitely the use of the death penalty. As of February 2011, it has been ratified by 73 states and signed by 35 others. In December 2010, the General Assembly passed its third resolution calling upon all countries to establish a moratorium on the death penalty.

Sources: Amnesty International, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, UN Treaty Collection.





© All Rights Reserved