The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a garment factory safety inspection agency of 27-North American retailers and brands, yesterday urged manufacturers to fast-track the remediation of their production units to avoid accidents.
The Alliance called for quick remediation in a statement on the latest fire at Gazipur-based Matrix Sweater Ltd, from where members of both the Alliance and Accord source garment items.
At least four workers were injured and goods worth more than Tk 100 crore were gutted in the fire on Tuesday.
“While much progress is being made in the Bangladesh readymade garment factories, this fire highlights the need for continued, collaborative efforts to ensure that all factories are thoroughly remediated,” the Alliance said in a statement.
The Alliance's mission is to ensure that factories meet strict inspection standards and provide a safe working environment free of structural, electrical and fire-related hazards, according to the statement.
The Alliance and its 27 member companies have formally severed ties with 26 factories that have failed to comply with safety standards.
All of these factories have been inspected, their 1.1 million workers provided with fire safety training, and all are now undergoing remediation to ensure that they meet the highest standards of safety -- progress that is saving lives, the Alliance said.
“As we have seen from the dramatic decline in serious fire incidents since the launch of the international safety initiatives including the Alliance, a reduction in fire risk, injury and death has resulted from our efforts — yet there remain hazards still to be addressed under the remediation programme.”
“These hazards are further complicated by infrastructure issues in Bangladesh, such as a lack of access to water supply and overcrowding of buildings, which complicate efforts to extinguish fires when they occur — further underscoring the need for our work.”
The Alliance conducted its first inspection of the Matrix Sweater factory in 2014 and recommended several essential safety improvements.
In June 2015, a remediation verification visit indicated that Matrix had completed 25 percent of its required repairs, with an additional 62 percent of repairs in progress.
Yet to be completed was installation of the fire doors, automatic sprinklers and fire detection systems, the lack of which allowed the fire to spread. The Alliance is currently conducting a follow-up inspection to gauge additional progress.
“While there were no casualties and only minor injuries in the fire, this incident underscores the importance of our ongoing work.”