Five fatal shipbreaking accidents in a month

At least five shipbreaking workers have been killed, and five more severely injured, in a series of accidents in Bangladesh within the space of a month, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform has said.

On 23 May, a 21-year-old died at the Seiko Steel shipbreaking yard after falling from a height whilst working without safety equipment. Six days later, workers were struck by falling steel plates at the same yard. One worker died on the spot, another in hospital, while three others were severely injured in the incident.

A third accident on occurred on June 5 at Laskar Shipbreaking, when a 35-year old was crushed by a falling steel plate. On June 19, two workers fell victim to a cylinder blast at Bhatiary Steel shipbreaking yard. One of the workers died in hospital three days later, and another suffered severe burns to his face and upper body.

On June 23, yet another worker suffered severe injuries from a fall at Kabir Steel. The yard had been in the news in April after Kabir’s private security personnel shot at workers and locals protesting a fatal accident, Shipbreaking Platform said.

“This horrific series of accidents shows that occupational health and safety measures are absent”, said Muhammed Ali Shahin, the Shipbreaking Platform’s local coordinator.

“We are witnessing the same accidents again and again: workers are not equipped with safety harnesses and fall to their death. Others are crushed under heavy steel parts as a consequence of the dangerous gravity method by which cut steel sections are simply dropped into the sea and on the beach. Gas cylinders cannot be handled safely on the beach and explosions cause death and terrible burn wounds. As long as ships are scrapped on the beaches, workers will continue to die.”

The two accidents at Seiko Steel occurred while the workers dismantled the vessel ‘Renate N’, last owned by Hamburg-based Neu Seeschifffahrt, the Shipbreaking Platform said.