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Times of Oman - 15.09.2015

Muscat: Four Bangladeshi workers died, three of them on the spot, and four others were injured in Yiti when the JCB machine in whose bucket they were travelling, toppled over as it was being driven by an inexperienced driver on Sunday afternoon.

Of the seven workers travelling in the JCB bucket to their work site, who accidentally fell down, three were crushed to dead on the spot, while one succumbed to his injuries on Monday at a hospital in Muscat.

“Four others in that JCB bucket who suffered injuries, were rushed to the hospital by the police,” sources in Yiti said.

All the victims, including the injured and the dead, were identified as Bangladeshi migrant workers who were employed at a landscape project in Jebel Sifah.

“A first-hand information from an unofficial source suggested that the Bangladeshis died when the JCB machine toppled. Three persons died on the spot and the other died this morning.

They were all rushed to the Khoula hospital trauma centre. The remains of the dead have been shifted to the police hospital’s morgue,” a senior official from the Bangladesh embassy in Muscat told the Times of Oman.

“Efforts are on by the mission office to confirm their identities, including their addresses in Bangladesh, repatriate the remains and seek compensation.

Undocumented workers

It is alleged that three out of four were undocumented workers. As such, it is anticipated that the recovery of their compensation could be difficult,” the official added.

However, at the time of the filing of this report, the embassy officials had not received the details of the injured.

Responding to the tragedy, a trade union leader expressed his surprise and shock at companies employing undocumented workers. “We can’t understand this. The government should intensify raids and make sure that companies are not employing undocumented workers just because they come cheap,” Mohammed Al Khaldi, a board member at the General Federation of Trade Union in Oman, told the Times of Oman.

According to sources in Yiti, workers travelling in JCB buckets and risking their lives is a common sight.

“I have seen this happening umpteen number of times. Even though people have often warned about the risks, they continue to commute like this since it is a cheap mode of transport,” sources in Yiti said.

Meanwhile, Mark Pudwell, training manager at Competence HR, said everyone has a right to work in a safe environment where potential hazards are mitigated through a risk assessment of their job and appropriate level of on-the-job training and safety norms.

“This is no less important in the construction industry where the diverse nature of potential hazards is especially dangerous to employees,” Mark added.

He also added that the construction companies have a moral if not a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their employees by hiring qualified people.

“The total human cost for the loss of one life or serious injury on-site always outweighs the cost of equipment and training,” Mark added.

Meanwhile, a statement from the company, said that seven Bangladeshi construction workers for a third party subcontractor at Jebel Sifah, Muriya Tourism Development’s project, took it upon themselves to use one of the heavy equipment on-site to transport them back to the camp for lunch.

The seven workers fell from the moving equipment, leading to the unfortunate death of three and injury to the other four.

Prompt action

The Construction Safety Officer present on site acted immediately contacting the Royal Oman Police, who took all necessary procedures to transport injured workers to the local hospitals in the area.

Muriya Tourism Development and its contractors implement the most stringent health and safety regulations across all operations and will take every corrective action to safeguard the best interests of all employees.

Muriya Tourism Development would like to extend its deepest condolences and wish a speedy recovery to those affected by this incident.
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