Tag Archives: safety harnesses

Bangladeshi workers risk lives in shipbreaking yards (from the Guardian)

Bangladeshi workers risk lives in shipbreaking yards (from the Guardian)

Bangladeshi workers risk lives in shipbreaking yards (from the Guardian) “EU safety rules for recycling yards could save hundreds from injury and poisoning but pose dangers for south Asian economies” (Click to read more)

Excerpts: “Few yards in Bangladesh or India, the world’s two largest centres of shipbreaking, can expect to pass the proposed standards without massive investment. Figures are hard to verify but, say local Chittagong watchdogs, in the past 10 years hundreds of men working in the 70 breaking yards have died or been maimed or poisoned. Many are from the poorest communities in the country.

“On average, one worker dies in the yards a week and every day a worker is injured. It seems like nobody really cares. Workers are easily replaceable to the yard owners: if one is lost they know another 10 are waiting to replace him. The government collects the taxes and turns a blind eye,” says Muhammed Shahin, an officer with local watchdog group Young Power in Social Action.

“Explosions of leftover gas and fumes in the tanks are the prime cause of accidents in the yards,” he says. Other accidents are caused by falls – because the men are not given safety harnesses – or workers being crushed by falling beams or plates or electrocuted.

Last week the Exxon Valdez, the ship responsible in 1989 for one of the largest oil spills in US history, was sold for scrap and is expected to be broken up on a beach in India or Bangladesh.

“It is outrageous that this ship, which has already created one environmental catastrophe, is being allowed to kill and pollute yet again,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, which works to prevent the globalisation of the toxic chemical crisis. “The ship’s owner must be held accountable for simply selling this toxic time- bomb and then walking away.”