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Worksite deaths double

DEATHS at construction sites in Bahrain have doubled in four years, according to the latest Labour Ministry figures. Thirty-five workers have already lost their lives in accidents this year, compared to 36 during the whole of last year, 29 in 2007, 21 in 2006 and 18 in 2005.

Of those killed, most fell from buildings under construction, we-re hit by falling construction materials or became trapped in workplace machines, said occupational health and safety head Abbas Salman Matooq.

He warned the number of worksite fatalities will rise by the end of the year unless companies stopped flouting safety rules and regulations.

"They hire cheap labour and purchase cheap equipment to cut costs," Mr Matooq told the GDN.

"Construction accident inspectors work hard to enforce construction safety laws by distributing safety brochures that are printed in several languages for the workers' safety.

"But we have noticed that no one follows these rules and that's the reason so many accidents happen."

Mr Matooq said a risk assessment test should be carried out at any site before construction work began.

"Training for labourers is a must and all the contracting and construction companies are asked to hire safety officers," he said.

Labour regulations state companies that employ 100 workers must hire a safety officer, while those with 50 or less should train a supervisor or foreman to monitor safety issues.

"We don't advise anyone to leave the labourer alone at the worksite, without supervision," said Mr Matooq.

"But on inspection, we noticed that many supervisors come in the morning for sometime, explain work to the labourers and leave, which shouldn't be allowed.

"The foreman or supervisor must stay at the site until the work is complete.

Mr Matooq revealed 1,000 construction sites and labour camps had already been inspected this year.

But he said part of the problem was that Bahrain was short of occupational safety engineers with only four carrying out daily inspections.

"We are facing trouble, as there is a shortage of inspection officers," said Mr Matooq.

"There are only four inspectors and we have to visit many construction sites in a day and write a report about them.

"The job also includes conducting investigations (after an accident or fatality) and giving safety lectures to workers.

"At least 40 safety inspectors are required to inspect of all the worksites in Bahrain."

Mr Matooq said most of the workers killed this year were from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.

"Two Bahraini workers also died this year, including one, who fell from top of a water tank in Electricity Ministry in Umm Al Hassam," he said.

"The other drowned when he was trying to cross a wooden bridge between two ships and fell into the sea.

"It took place at the Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Port and the man was the captain of one of the ships."

The GDN reported on Saturday that a Labour Ministry probe had been launched into two worksite accidents that killed one worker and left another seriously injured.

Indian Pokkillatha Ali Sulaiman, 51, fell to his death from the second floor of a building in Isa Town on Frid-ay.

It happened at 10am when he was cleaning a window at the Traffic Directorate.

Mr Sulaiman leav-es behind his wife and two children.

Hours earlier Bangladeshi Farooq Imam Kabeer suffered serious injuries after a jack fell on him from a building under construction in Shakhoora.

It happened at around 8am as the 25-year-old was fixing the jack to make stairs.

aneeqa@gdn.com.bh



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