Workers at high risk for toxic chemicals

Work forces of Bangladesh are at high risk due to use of toxic chemicals at almost every workplace, said experts.

“In our country indiscriminate use of chemicals at almost every workplaces is a common phenomenon . hundreds of people die annually due to their hazardous work particularly in ship- breaking, tanneries, chemical industries and farming which are in the top death ranks,” said National expert on Chemical Safety Dr Shahriar Hossain.

safety firstAccording to a survey conducted by Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) reported at least 63 people died in Bangladesh due to toxic chemicals in last three months from February to April this year, reports BSS.

As per an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, about two million people die annually across the world due to chemical related diseases while about 160 million people are affected by such diseases. In one-third of these cases, illness causes loss of working days and increases number of accidents at work places.

Mentioning different studies in Bangladesh, the expert said, “Around 85 per cent farmers exposed to toxic and hazardous pesticides and other chemicals during their work while more than 30 per cent of them become seriously ill.”

In the ship-breaking industries more than 1000 workers were killed due to chemical poisoning since 1996 in the country, he said adding around 20,000 tannery workers are at high health risk. Almost all workers are exposed to toxic chemicals at their work stations while three to five hundred workers lose their jobs due to serious illness every year.

According to a study jointly conducted by ILO, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and signed by Regional Technical Assistance Agreement (RETA) in November 2000, the occupational health and safety service in Bangladesh is still in the developmental stage.

Like other developing countries, pre- existing malnutrition and a high incidence of infectious disease, however frequently compound the problems of exposure to occupational hazard.

Expressing concern over the use of chemicals at work places, Labour Advisor of Bangladesh Employers\’ Federation (BFF) Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed said, “Lack of knowledge and awareness of owners and labours are also responsible for the hazard … both the owners and workers have to be conscious to minimize the health risk.”

Chemicals can enter human body in three ways -inhalation (when chemical is in gas, vapor or fume form and enter by breathe, absorption (when it passes through the skin, eyes and ingestion (when chemicals goes in to mouth).

The toxicity of chemicals affects respiratory, renal, cardiovascular, reproductive, nervous, immune systems of human body and also creates different skin problems, said health experts.


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