DHAKA, Bangladesh

The International Labour Organization (ILO) on Tuesday urged Bangladesh to adopt protective measures in order to prevent and control COVID-19 in the workplace, with active dialogue with employers’ and workers’ organizations.

All employers need to carry out risk assessments and ensure their workplaces meet strict occupational safety and health criteria beforehand, to minimize the risk to workers of exposure to COVID-19, the ILO said in a statement.

“As some industries begin to slowly resume operations, the ILO has developed a three-pronged strategy to ensure a safer return to work in the Bangladesh context. The first step is the adoption of several safety and health measures at work based on dialogue between employers and workers, and a shared understanding of coronavirus risks,” said Tuomo Poutiainen, country director of ILO Bangladesh.

“To prevent transmission of the virus and safeguard workers, the ILO has developed Covid-19 specific OSH guidelines, together with the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE),” Tuomo Poutiainen added.

ILO country director recommended that employment retention through work-sharing and reskilling, in addition to essential social protection measures to ensure access to subsistence allowance, basic healthcare and income security for formal and informal sector workers.

Bangladesh boasts 4,500 garment factories employing 4.1 million workers and is the second-largest exporter of garments worldwide after China.

Meanwhile, about 1000 garments factories have reopened on Monday and Tuesday after the government and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) gave positive nod to gradually reopen factories amid the countrywide lockdown.

The reopening has created fear of further spread of the coronavirus in the country due to movement of workers across the country.

However, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said “efforts are being made to prevent workers from coming from outside Dhaka, and government is taking necessary measures so that workers don’t leave Dhaka again during Eid.”

The minister made the assurance in Dhaka on Tuesday after holding a meeting with the concerned people, including BGMEA leaders, factory owners and government officials, to discuss maintaining discipline in factories, and ensuring wages of workers, according to local media.

Bangladesh on Monday reported a total of 6,462 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 155 deaths.

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