Less than 2pc of factories unsafe, Accord says
Engineers of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the platform of 186 retailers predominantly based in Europe, found less than 2 percent of the inspected factories unsafe for production and occupancy.
The platform, which started its inspection drive in February, has so far examined upwards of 1,000 factories for fire, electrical and structural safety, according to a statement.
“The fact that the number is less then 2 percent indicates that Bangladesh's garment factories are not as unsafe as thought earlier. I hope the buyers' confidence will increase further after this,” Roy Ramesh Chandra, general secretary of IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, said.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the government formed-review panel has so far shut down 18 factories upon recommendation from the Accord engineers.
For such factories, the platform is focusing on expediting the required remedial measures such that they can be safely re-opened as quickly as
It is also ensuring that workers' employment is maintained and their wages paid while remediation is taking place.
“The decision to suspend operations and evacuate a factory building is a serious and difficult one but the Accord is committed to getting workers out of the most dangerous factories until they are made safe,” the Accord said.
In the rest of the factories, more than 250 corrective action plans have been agreed.
The remedial measures consist of: reducing weight loads and adhering to load management plans; cleaning up, organising and being disciplined in maintenance practices, which include properly connecting and sealing electrical wires and keeping wires and circuits free of dust and lint.
The Accord inspections are also identifying safety requirements involving more substantial measures, such as installing fire doors, automated smoke detectors and fire alarm systems, establishing fire protected exits from factory buildings and strengthening of columns in the buildings.
The work to remediate these critical life-safety issues is underway and is being monitored and verified by the Accord.
“Good progress has been made, but the Accord recognises that there is still a lot of work to do.”
In line with the Accord's commitment to transparency, in the coming months all inspection reports and corrective actions plans will be available online, according to the statement. “This will further demonstrate the Accord's progress towards making readymade garment factories in Bangladesh safe,” the statement added.
From the outset, the Accord planned to inspect 1,600 factories by September. Rob Wayss, Accord's executive director for Bangladesh operations, indicated that they would be able to meet their target.
“Yes, we will complete the initial inspections within the remaining days of this month,” he added.
Meanwhile, Monika Kemperle, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said unsafe textile factories are not only found in Bangladesh.
“The problems are many and complicated in Pakistan and there is no Accord on Building and Fire Safety to set legally binding standards,” she said on the second anniversary of Karachi's Ali Enterprises fire accident.
September 11 marks the second anniversary of the event, which was one of the worst industrial accidents in Pakistan. Some 259 workers died, many were seriously injured and 1,500 were left with no employment, according to IndustriALL.