7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Bahrain worksite deaths fall

BAHRAIN'S unrest contributed to a dramatic fall in the number of workplace fatalities, it has emerged.

Eight workers have lost their lives so far this year, compared with 13 up to June last year and 18 during the same period in 2009, according to the latest figures.

Labour Ministry occupational health and safety acting head Hussain Al Shami said safety campaigns and improved awareness had been key factors in the improvement.

But he also admitted the country's unrest, which led to the closure of many Manama worksites during February and March, also played a role.

"The country's unrest led to the closure of many construction worksites, affecting the labour community," said Mr Al Shami.

"Fatal accidents didn't take place as many construction workers refused to go for work during this period.

"In general, the construction sector is not booming as well as it used to be."

Shoppers and many workers stayed away from the capital during the height of the unrest amid violent clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces.

Four Asians were also killed during a hate campaign against expatriates, which left dozens of others injured.

Mr Al Shami said some companies continued to risk the lives of their workers by flouting safety laws.

He stated negligence, carelessness and failure to follow simple safety rules and regulations were to blame for most construction site accidents.

The official's comments came after two expatriate workers were killed during workplace accidents last month.

Bangladeshi Hamid Rahatulla, 33, died when sand collapsed on him three metres underground as he was attempting to fix a sewage pit in Hidd.

Nepali mechanic and father-of-two Ram Kumar Karki was killed on June 16 when he was trapped inside a loading machine used for collecting sand and rubbish in a compound in Jurdab.

Mr Al Shami said more deaths were inevitable unless companies followed Bahrain's rules and regulations.

"Most of the worksite accidents, whether fatal, serious or minor, take place because of negligence and ignorance of safety measures," he told the GDN.

"Rules are made to be followed, but we notice most of the companies completely ignore them.

"Professional, qualified and skilled workers must be hired to work, even as labourers.

"Companies must not hire cheap labour and equipment just to cut costs."

Mr Al Shami said a lack of training and supervision was also a major factor in workplace accidents.

"Training of a worker in any field is a must, but most companies don't take it seriously," he said.

"But companies hire illegal workers, who are not even labourers, but runaway electricians, drivers, tailors and anyone who comes their way.

"This must not happen and we are going to take strict action against such companies."

Mr Al Shami said the ministry was spending BD30,000 annually to print safety leaflets, posters and CDs in six languages for construction workers.

"These will be in English, Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil, so that all workers can understand them," said Mr Al Shami.

"Most of the labourers are from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, so we want them to read and understand the safety measures.

"The problem is that the workers hired by construction companies are not literate and are unable to read and write.

"Even if some of them are able to read, they ignore the messages on the posters which are pasted at each worksite.

"But supervisors or managers must tell them prior to working at a worksite."

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