As health and safety regulations continue to be flouted in the industrial sector, largely avoidable accidents continue to claim precious lives, and accountability is rarely demanded in the aftermath. The tragic accident that took place yesterday when a fire broke out in a fabric factory at Karim Park on Ravi Road, Lahore, killed three labourers, and the cause of the fire was stated to be a short-circuit.

This is just another amongst a string of similar accidents this year, as three major incidents of fire in garment and tyre factories occurred in Karachi in June 2016, causing losses of millions and also exposing the limitations of emergency response in the metropolitan. The fire brigade battled the flames for 24 hours before they were finally extinguished.

It was hoped that the Baldia Town massacre that devastated hundreds of families on September 12, 2012 would press the authorities to ensure the safety of their labourers and follow regulations to avoid future accidents. The fire that ravaged the textile factory complex in the commercial hub of Karachi killed almost 300 workers trapped behind locked emergency exits and raised alarm not just in Pakistan but within the international community, highlighting Pakistan’s faltering industrial economy. It was Pakistan’s worst industrial accident, according to official reports and it came just hours after another fire, at a shoe factory in Lahore that killed at least 25.

About 20.1% of the 58.4 million strong labour force is involved in industry. Yet the conditions under which Pakistan's blue-collar labour works are not only miserable but also at a complete mercy of trade unions who ensure that their woes are addressed regarding everything from healthcare to maintenance of infrastructure of the factories. Small business owners have no guidance or awareness from the government authorities and they function largely on their own initiatives without a system of check and balance. They must be empowered to plan better so such fatal accidents are avoided at all costs.