Bangladesh is one of the major ship breaking nations in the world. Environmental policies and laws are not enforced, labour salaries are among the lowest in the world and there are few standards for occupational health and labour safety. Some 30-50,000 people are directly employed in the ship breaking, and another 100,000 indirectly. A labourer earns around 1-3 dollars per day depending on the type of work. Working in the ship breaking yards is a very dangerous job. Workers are often exposed to asbestos used for insulation in older ships and from paint containing lead, cadmium and arsenic. It is not seldom that workers die caused by gas poisoning or explosions and fires. Each ship contains an average of 7000 - 8000 kilo of asbestos and 10 - 100 tons of lead paint. Sometimes gases explode killing workers. It also happens that workers are crushed by tumbling or falling steel parts. Some 1000-2000 workers have died in the last 30 years, and many more have suffered serious injuries.
Jan Møller Hansen
Chittagong, February 2012
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