Bangladesh labour inspectorate launches COVID-19 workplace safety guideline

News | 19 October 2020
Labour and Employment Secretary, K.M. Abdus Salam; Industries Secretary, KM Ali Azam; Inspector General of DIFE, Shibnath Roy; and other senior MoLE and DIFE officials attended the launch of the Covid-19 workplace safety guideline.
DHAKA (ILO News) – Aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 infections in the workplace, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), under the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), has formulated a ‘Guideline on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) to Prevent and Mitigate COVID-19 in the Workplace’.

The guideline was officially presented at an event on 8 October 2020 at Shromo Bhaban (DIFE national headquarters) in Dhaka. The Honourable Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr K.M. Abdus Salam; Secretary of the Ministry of Industries, Mr KM Ali Azam and other senior MoLE and DIFE officials also attended the launch.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) provided technical support in developing the guideline, which includes recommendations and tools to help government, employers, workers and relevant stakeholders plan and organise the containment of COVID-19 in all workplaces.

Speaking at the ceremony, Secretary of MoLE, Mr K. M. Abdus Salam said, “This guideline has been formulated maintaining international labour standards and following the directives of the Honourable Prime Minister. We need to have effective preparations to protect the labour sector from the second wave of COVID-19 infection this coming winter.”

Inspector General of DIFE, Mr Shibnath Roy said, "This guideline is a milestone in ensuring health and safety in all workplaces, as it has been prepared and customized for our country’s labour sectors in the light of guidance issued by the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization and the ILO.”

Tuomo Poutiainen, Country Director, ILO Bangladesh said, “Unsafe work environments and poor OSH practices threaten both health and business resilience. The ILO is working closely with the Bangladesh government, workers’ and employers’ organizations to combat the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods and the economy. This timely guideline provides effective contingency plans for business continuity that will ensure the safety of individuals in workplaces and help secure the sustainability of businesses and jobs.”

On 9 June 2020, the OSH guideline was vetted and endorsed by the National Council for Industry, Health and Safety chaired by the State Minister for Labour and attended by representatives from various Ministries as well as employers’ and workers’ organisations, academic and legal experts. Feedback from the Council informed the finalisation of the document.

Soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in Bangladesh (April 2020), the ILO had developed COVID-19 specific OSH guidelines for the ready-made garment industry.