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Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in Bangladesh’s Shipbuilding Sector: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Scenarium undertook the first cost-benefit analysis of occupational health and safety (OHS) in a low-income country. It was based on a project conducted at a large shipbuilding yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s shipbuilding industry has flourished over recent years, influenced by low labour costs, an abundant workforce and coastal infrastructure. Arguably one of the most dangerous industries for a worker to be employed in, fatalities and serious injuries due to heavy machinery, hazardous working environments, dangerous materials and stress levels are particularly high. Low levels of education, knowledge or awareness of the dangers plus a lack of safety clothing or other forms of personal protection, and pressure and exploitation from management with little need to respect the law, add to many workers being injured and killed in the shipbuilding industry in developing countries.

While OHS measures decreased injuries, increased efficiency and brought security to workers’ families, the report shows that the high investments were difficult to offset with quantifiable benefits alone. Intangible benefits, including potential market expansion due to certification, were crucial in the cost-benefit analysis.

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