Week of 10 February 2020
New UK High Court case shines the spotlight on the need for companies selling ships to conduct human rights due diligence and the rise in deaths of workers dismantling ships in Bangladesh
Shipbreaking, the practice of dismantling the world’s ships, has long been known to be a dangerous activity. Deaths and accidents take place every year in the shipbreaking yards, most of which are situated in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. When ships are broken apart directly on the beach (instead of in an industrial site), this is known as “beaching”. NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports that close to 700 ships were sold to Bangladesh in 2019 – making Bangladesh the country with the most shipbreaking yards in the world. This is also where health and safety standards are the lowest in the world (the NGO reports 389 worker deaths linked to shipbreaking since 2009, a number of which took place in Bangladesh).
One case will now be ruled upon later this year by the UK high court. In March 2018, Khalid Mollah was working to cut up a 300,000-tonne super-tanker in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and died when he fell from the eighth storey. His wife has brought a UK court case against the company that owned the ship before it was sold for demolition. She argues that shipping company Maran (UK) would have known that the ship was going to Chittagong for demolition and should have anticipated the risk of injury to workers demolishing it.