An integrated inspection team led by the Bangladesh Investment Development Board (Bida) and the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (Dife) will inspect 550 factories and establishments in Chattogram to ensure a safe working environment, including infrastructure and fire accident prevention.
The inspection team will check factory documents, licenses, design, certificates, and record registers as per a checklist. They will also assess the efficiency of the safety committee, fire brigade and rescue team, and first aid team, in accordance with fire and evacuation plans.
Dife sources said about 46,000 factories and commercial establishments across the country will be inspected. Of them, 11-member squads of the integrated team will inspect 550 factories in different cities and regions of Chattogram.
A training session will be organised for the inspection team members at the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) on Thursday. After the training, inspection will commence this month.
Each team will have representatives from 13 organisations – district administration, Dife, Fire Service, the Department of Environment, the Office of the Chief Inspector of Boilers, power and gas distribution companies, the Explosives Department, the Public Works Department, the Department of Architecture, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries, and Bida.
A representative of the district administration will be the convener and a representative of Dife will be the member secretary of a team. Representatives from other organisations will be there as members.
Dife (Chattogram) Inspector General, Abdullah Al Shakib Mubarrat, told TBS that team members will look into the safety of the establishments and determine the capacity of the companies to ensure safety.
On 8 July, three workers were burnt to death and over 50 were injured in a fire at Hashem Food's Sezan Juice Factory in Narayanganj. Following this incident, a 24-member national committee was formed on the 15 July directives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take effective measures against accidents in all industries.
CCCI Director Ahid Siraj Swapan, a member of the inspection team, said organisations responsible for monitoring safety measures in factories blame each other after an accident. That is why an integrated team has been formed. They will determine the next course of action to ensure the safety of factories.
Md Machiuddaula, a member of the Chittagong First Labour Court and the cost bargaining secretary of the Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, said the initiative was commendable. However, it is difficult to diagnose safety and work environment problems of workers in factories in a short period of time. To get the benefits of this initiative, it is important to take initiative to identify the problem and not just inspect it.
According to a compensation case filed in the Chittagong First Labour Court, 191 workers died at their workplaces in Chattogram from January 2015 to August 2021. Of these, 86 workers died in a steel factory, 40 died at a ship breaking yard, and 65 died in other factories and establishments.
The Dife has identified several faults in factories which are hiring unlicensed contractors, not providing appointment letters and photo ID cards to workers, not giving service books to workers, not maintaining labour registers, not working with proper protection gear for workers, and operating elevators, scales, excavators, and cranes, using unskilled drivers.
There are other issues such as not inspecting crane machines at least once a year, not providing safety clothing to those working near a furnace, not forming and enforcing safety committees to ensure rules are followed to create a safe working environment.
Dife has also suggested that workers involved in hazardous work should be allowed to rest for half an hour every two hours.
The Business Standard published a report titled "Owners' negligence costing worker lives in Ctg steel industry" on 24 September.