While factory safety has greatly improved in Bangladesh over the last five years, accidents still happen. Since the Rana Plaza collapse, over 540 workers have been killed and injured in factory incidents in Bangladesh. There is no national employment injury insurance scheme that would cover all workers in Bangladesh.
Current proposals to address compensation for workers injured in the workplace do not bring Bangladesh any closer to international standards in the field of workplace injury. These standards are enshrined in ILO Convention 121 on employment injury benefits, which Bangladesh has not ratified. Doing so would be a welcome step.
The implementation of an employment injury insurance scheme for workers of the garment industry should bring them and eventually all workers up to internationally accepted levels of social protection.
Over 130 countries in the world cover employment injury as part of their social security system, but Bangladesh is not one of them, although the scheme is affordable. Contribution to a national employment injury insurance scheme would amount to about 0.005 per cent of the retail price of a garment. Employers would have to contribute about 0.3 per cent of the wage sum. Less than the price of a basic T-shirt per year could insure a worker against insecurity and the worst forms of poverty after a workplace tragedy.