In the last 20 years, 343 people have died in construction accidents in Panama, including 10 this year, which is an indication that there are still many security challenges in the construction sector, the Panamanian minister of labor said Friday.
"It is true that the number of deaths has decreased in the last few years, but the goal is for nobody to die," Luis Ernesto Carles said during an event that took place in an under-construction skyscraper as part of a campaign seeking to make workers aware of their right to be safe on the job.
The "One death, one strike!" campaign, organized by the Suntracs union, "sends a clear message to employers that security regulations must be obeyed," the minister said.
Among those regulations, he said, is Law 67, requiring companies to have a head of security during construction projects, which was passed in 2008 at the height of Panama's building boom.
The construction sector is one of the engines of Panama's economy, which led the region last year with a 5.4-percent growth rate.
Construction represented 14.9 percent of Panama's GDP in 2016, but the sector has declined in the last few years, to the point that private activity in construction fell 48 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 2017.
The International Labor Organization estimates that 317 million people suffer work accidents every year throughout the world and that 2.34 million people die because of work-related accidents or illnesses.
In Latin America, according to the ILO, there are 11.1 fatal accidents per 100,000 construction workers every year, compared to 10.7 in agriculture and 6.9 in the service sector.