Speakers at a webinar said a national action plan needs to be formulated after reviewing the occupational health and safety policy to protect workers, frontline fighters and service providers during Covid-19 pandemic.
Representatives of the government, trade unions and civil society said this at the webinar titled "Covid-19: Occupational Health and Safety for All (Workers, Frontline fighters, Service Providers)" held today.
AKM Mashum Ul Alam, Faculty Member of Department of Occupational Health and Environment at the Bangladesh University of Health and Science, presented the keynote paper at the webinar organized by Bangladesh Institute of Labor Studies (BILS), chaired by BILS Chairman Md Habibur Rahman Siraj.
In the keynote paper, AKM Mashum said Covid-19 needs to be tackled by ensuring a secure workplace through responsible business initiatives.
He also highlighted the importance of implementing the existing labor law and policy occupational health safety guidelines and social dialogue.
The government and development organizations should raise the issue of protection of workers in the new normal situation, he added.
Former President of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) Rashid-E-Mahbub, Convener of Workers Safety Forum (SNF) Dr Hamida Hossain, Joint Inspector General (Health unit) of the Department of Factory and Establishment Inspection Dr Md Mostafizur Rahman, Joint Secretary General of BILS and General Secretary of Bangladesh Trade Union Center Dr Wajedul Islam Khan, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health at Daffodil University and former Senior National Consultant at the World Health Organization (WHO) Salamat Khandaker, ILO RMG Project Chief Technical Advisor George Faller, others spoke at the webinar.
Dr Rashid-e-Mahbub said as Covid-19 is an infectious one, hygiene rules should be applied keeping this in mind. All stakeholders need to consider whether workers can be insured in the same way that government officials and employees are covered.
Dr Hamida Hossain said the trade unions should come forward to make the workers more aware in tackling Covid-19. And the employers need to ensure food and transportation for the workers.
She also emphasized the need for urgent training and awareness initiatives during Covid-19.
Urging the trade unions to play an effective role in the protection of workers during Covid-19, Dr Salamat Khandaker said from the policy-making stage, proper guidance has to be given to deal with Covid-19, because Covid-19 is not only a public health problem, it is also a public health policy problem.
George Faller said occupational safety in the workplace is a part of the ILO's recommended decent works. In this case, the Department of Factory and Establishment Inspection has to prepare a guideline for different workplaces.
Dr Wajedul Islam Khan emphasized on ensuring the health protection of the workers by creating social safety net.