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Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in Bangladesh

Health and safety laws

Bangladesh has a comprehensive set of laws and regulations to ensure health and safety in various sectors. The primary legislation is the Bangladesh Labour Act, 2006, which was amended in 2013. This law outlines basic provisions for health and safety in the workplace, including mandates for cleanliness, ventilation, lighting, sanitation, and the prevention of overcrowding. It also covers fire safety, precautions against machinery hazards, and the safe operation of lifts, cranes, and pressure systems.

Specific Regulations & Policies

The Bangladesh Labour Rules, 2015, provide detailed rules and procedures to implement the provisions of the Bangladesh Labour Act. The Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) 2020 includes fire safety, structural safety, and occupational safety regulations for the construction sector. The National Occupational Safety and Health Policy, 2013, sets a national framework for improving health and safety standards, promoting awareness, and enhancing regulatory capacities within Bangladesh.

Regulatory Bodies

The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) is the primary agency responsible for enforcing health and safety laws. Other relevant agencies include the Department of Environment, which addresses environmental hazards that may impact workplaces, and the Directorate General of Fire Service and Civil Defense, which oversees fire safety regulations.

Key Focus Areas of Bangladesh Health and Safety Laws

The laws focus on various aspects of workplace conditions, including cleanliness, lighting, ventilation, sanitation, temperature control, and prevention of overcrowding. They also cover fire safety, machinery safety, chemical safety, electrical safety, the provision and appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), provision of basic first aid and access to medical care, and prevention and compensation of work-related illnesses.

Challenges and Recent Developments

Despite the legal framework, Bangladesh faces ongoing challenges in ensuring compliance, particularly in the informal sector and high-risk industries like garment manufacturing and shipbreaking. The Rana Plaza Disaster in 2013 highlighted weaknesses in enforcement and led to increased international scrutiny. In response, the government has been increasing its inspection capacity and strengthening collaboration with various stakeholders to promote compliance.

Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety (OHS) in Bangladesh is governed by a set of key legislation and regulatory frameworks. The Bangladesh Labour Act (2006, amended in 2013) is the primary legal framework, outlining employer and employee responsibilities and mandating specific safety measures in various industries. The National Occupational Safety and Health Policy (2013) provides a comprehensive policy framework to improve OHS standards across sectors, promote a safety culture, and strengthen collaboration between government, employers, and workers. The Bangladesh Labour Rules (2015) are detailed regulations made under the Labour Act.

Key OHS Standards and Requirements

Workplace safety measures include hazard identification and risk assessment, development and implementation of safe work procedures, fire safety, electrical safety, and machine guarding. Employers must provide suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the nature of work hazards and ensure its proper use and maintenance.

Health and hygiene standards require workplaces to be kept clean and well-ventilated, with adequate sanitation facilities and provision of first aid kits and trained personnel. Occupational health surveillance involves medical examinations for workers exposed to specific hazards and monitoring of workplace health risks.

Worker participation and consultation are encouraged through the formation of workplace safety committees with worker representation in workplaces with 50 or more workers. Regular training on hazards, safe practices, and emergency procedures is also required.

OHS Enforcement and Compliance

The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) is the primary government agency responsible for enforcing OHS regulations. However, DIFE faces challenges with limited personnel and resources leading to difficulties ensuring widespread compliance.

OHS Challenges and Opportunities

OHS regulations are less rigorously enforced in Bangladesh's informal sector, where a large portion of the workforce is employed. There's a need to develop a stronger prevention-oriented OHS culture at all levels. Strengthened partnerships between government, industry, and workers' organizations are essential for ongoing progress.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections are a vital part of ensuring worker safety, health, and wellbeing in Bangladesh. They help identify potential safety and health risks before they result in accidents or injuries, ensure compliance with labor laws, and promote a safe work environment.

Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE)

The primary authority responsible for conducting workplace inspections in Bangladesh is the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), which operates under the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Inspection Criteria

DIFE inspections cover key areas such as building safety, occupational health and safety, and worker welfare. Building safety includes aspects like structural integrity, fire safety measures, and electrical safety. Occupational health and safety considerations include machinery and equipment safety, handling of hazardous chemicals, personal protective equipment (PPE), noise and vibration levels, lighting and ventilation, and sanitation and hygiene facilities. Worker welfare encompasses working hours and overtime provisions, wage and salary compliance, leave entitlements, child labor prevention, and freedom of association and collective bargaining rights.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of workplace inspections can vary based on the industry and risk profile, the size of the factory or establishment, and its complaint history. High-risk industries, larger workplaces, and those with a history of complaints may be subject to more frequent inspections.

Inspection Procedures

Inspection procedures typically involve a notice, an opening meeting with the factory management, a walkthrough inspection, interviews with workers and management representatives, a record review, a closing meeting summarizing preliminary findings and potential violations, and the issuance of a formal inspection report.

Follow-up Actions

Factories are given a timeline to rectify identified violations. DIFE conducts re-inspections to verify compliance. In cases of non-compliance, DIFE may impose penalties, including fines, license suspension, or even closure.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents are a serious concern and require immediate attention. Employers are legally obligated to report serious accidents and dangerous occurrences to the relevant authorities as soon as possible. There are specific reporting deadlines for different types of incidents. Fatal accidents must be reported within 24 hours, while serious injuries or dangerous occurrences must be reported within 7 days. Employers are also required to maintain a register of all workplace accidents, recording details of the incident, injuries sustained, and actions taken.

Investigation Procedures for Workplace Accidents

Employers have the primary duty to investigate workplace accidents to determine the root causes and implement corrective measures to prevent recurrence. The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) may conduct its own investigations, especially in the case of serious accidents or fatalities. Investigations should aim to identify immediate and underlying causes of the accident, determine if any safety violations occurred, and recommend preventive measures and corrective actions. Worker representatives or safety committee members should ideally participate in the investigation process.

Compensation for Injuries and Fatalities

Employers are liable to pay compensation to workers who sustain injuries or die due to workplace accidents. Compensation amounts are determined based on the severity of the injury, the worker's wages, and other factors. Workers or their families must file a claim with the Labour Court, which determines the compensation amount after reviewing evidence and hearing arguments. While not mandatory, employers are encouraged to obtain workers' compensation insurance to cover such liabilities. The process of claiming compensation can be complex and time-consuming for workers. Access to legal support and advocacy from workers' organizations can be beneficial in navigating these procedures.

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