Bangladesh shipbreaking yards have seen a record-breaking number of fatalities this quarter. According to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, at least seven workers lost their lives while scrapping vessels on the beach of Chattogram – the worst quarter in terms of the number of accidents in Bangladeshi shipbreaking history.
A few weeks ago, seven separate accidents that killed five workers were reported by the platform. Since then, two more fatalities have occurred. The fatalities were caused by explosions, falls from height, falling steel plates and exposure to toxic fumes.
One of the accidents took place last month when a worker fell from the 1999-built aframax tanker Oro Singa, sold by Indonesian company Selebes Sarana. The NGO said, citing shipping databases, the cash buyer involved in the sale was GMS, one of the most well-known dealers of end-of-life ships. “GMS, which is behind a significant share of the total tonnage beached in the Indian subcontinent every year, praises itself as a sustainable leader of the sector. Yet, it keeps dealing with the worst shipbreaking destinations on the planet,” the NGO said.
Twelve accidents, causing nine deaths and twelve injuries, have been registered at SN Corporation since 2009. In 2021 alone, two workers died and five suffered severe burns at the yard.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has called for a move of the industry to dry-dock operations, compliance with occupational health and safety standards as well as established workers’ rights, and accountability for the management of hazardous wastes originating from ships in line with international law.
“The terrible sequence of accidents in Chattogram, which increases the yearly death toll dramatically in such a short period of time, not only shows a lack of responsibility by shipping companies as they continue to sell their end-of-life vessels to be broken down under knowingly dangerous conditions, but also a lack of action by the Bangladeshi government to regulate the industry,” the NGO stated.