Safety is a basic right at the workplace

Oct 31, 2018, 07:15 IST | mid-day online desk

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Safety is a basic right at the workplace

Seven construction workers suffered severe injuries after a bamboo scaffolding put up for repairs of a building in Thane came crashing down on Monday morning. The workers were quite high on the scaffolding without safety gear; when the scaffolding gave way, they came crashing down with it.

This case, though hugely tragic, fails to surprise us because unfortunately, we have become inured to such incidents. Across the city, we see workers perched on bamboo scaffoldings at commercial sites, residential buildings and even hoardings. They are mostly without safety gear.

The change is long overdue. We need to have workers with protective gear. Helmets and harnesses should be made mandatory. Other protection for the limbs should also be part of the workers' uniform.

Telling workers to paint, repair, renovate without gear is exposing them to huge danger, and is, in fact, exploitation. We must begin by cracking down on contractors and construction companies that do not equip workers with safety equipment. Thegovernment needs to put punitive measures in place for such companies and there must be a blanket rule for helmets for workers, safety harness, and a safety net - if space permits - as basic, minimal requirement.

Just like safety has become priority for mandals during the Govinda festival, this has to become the number one priority for all companies in civil work. Govindas have to wear helmets, bikers have to wear helmets, so why not workers who are directly in the line of danger? Don't give contracts to companies that do not comply with safety requirements; this is the surest incentive we can give them to start thinking about employee safety. Another way, of course, is to turn to the law that hold owners responsible and culpable for negligence.

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