Safety of workers
I RECENTLY witnessed gross violations of occupational safety rules on main Sunset Boulevard, Karachi. The two workers worked on a billboard located at the Defence Central Library for three consecutive days.
They were welding the air gaps in the billboard. Without a safety harness, they hung on to their dear lives, some 40 to 50 feet above the ground.
Moreover, the rope they had was conveniently used to carry their equipment to the height, instead of holding them. Watching them hanging with one limb and working with the other was terrifying.
The advertisement company, which was responsible for safety turned a bind eye. So did the DHA on whose property this billboard was erected.
Unfortunately, safety precautions for labourers are a luxury in Pakistan. While the laws exist, they are rarely implemented.
Employers are rarely bothered about providing a safety harness or ropes for protection from a fall. They probably consider safety equipment wasteful overheads.
Providing compensation to an injured worker may be more convenient since the cost of life and limb is cheap in Pakistan.
Strict criminal action should be taken against all such employers and advertisement companies managing billboards all over the city.
The government and law-enforcement agencies should provide a contact number where violations of occupational safety can be reported.
Safety is the primary right of every worker. We do not want any more disasters like the Baldia factory fire.
DR JAHANZEB EFFENDI
Founder, First Response Initiative of Pakistan