International News

BANGLADESH: OVER 40 KILLED, HUNDREDS INJURED IN DEPOT BLAST

A fire and a huge explosion have killed at least 41 people and injured hundreds more at a storage depot near the city of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Hundreds of people had arrived to tackle the 4 June fire when several shipping containers exploded at the site in Sitakunda. Authorities said some highly dangerous chemicals stored in the containers were ‘mislabelled’. As firefighters, police and volunteers tried to extinguish the blaze a huge explosion rocked the site, engulfing many of the rescuers in flames and throwing debris and people into the air. At least five firefighters were among those killed and several more were injured.

Source: Risks Newsletter, ILO statementBBC News Online and update.

INDIA: HUNDREDS ILL IN GARMENT FACTORY GAS LEAK

Around 400 women workers at a giant garment factory in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in India fell ill on 3 June after inhaling an unidentified hazardous gas. Some workers at the Brandix India Apparel factory in Atchutapuram fainted, others complained of headaches, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, and burning eyes. The factory employs 22,000 people, 18,000 of which are women, and did not have healthcare facilities on site. Union access is restricted in the SEZs, making organising difficult, said the global union for the sector, IndustriALL. It added the low unionisation rate makes it difficult for workers to speak out against plant owners’ negligence.

Source: Risks Newsletter, IndustriALL news release.

WOMEN WORKERS ASSAULTED BY PATIENT WIN $2 MILLION JURY DECISION

US: Washington jurors recently awarded about $US2 million to a former Hospital nurse and three coworkers assaulted by a patient.

The women sued the state arguing that it knew the patient had a history of targeting women, failed to protect them and later retaliated against them.

Western State Hospital is Washington’s largest inpatient psychiatric facility and is overseen by the state Department of Social and Health Services. One worker suffered a traumatic brain injury and a fracture to her lower back after the patient jumped across the counter of the nurse’s station, threw her to the ground, and bit off part of her ear.

Unbelievably, the state’s attorneys noted in their trial brief that the women chose to work in a dangerous profession.

Workers compensation laws generally prohibit workers from suing their employer, but the women argued under Washington Law Against Discrimination that they suffered a hostile work environment, weren’t given reasonable accommodations after the attacks and were retaliated against.

Source: Confined Space and the Washington News Tribune, 27 May, 2022

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