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Bangladesh starts factory inspection

downloadIn a bid to ensure improved working conditions, the Bangladesh government along with the global retailers has started inspecting garment factory buildings to examine workplace safety measures taken by factory owners from Friday.

Besides government representatives, the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, two separate platforms of the European and North American buyers, have sent experts for inspecting the garment factory buildings to ensure workplace safety.

The inspectors have so far visited six factory buildings in the capital on the first day, it was learnt.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) said that an engineers’ team of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) along with experts of the two alliances will evaluate the infrastructural conditions of the factory buildings, workers’ safety measures and fire safety.

If any fault is identified, then the buyers would assist the factory owners, both technically and financially, to repair it, sources said.

Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, the platform of the 101 European buyers although planned to start inspecting the factory buildings early November but the unit had started it at the last week of November as it waited for expanding the members of the platform and to ensure quality inspection, it was learnt.

Besides, The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a platform of the 22 north American buyers after the Rana Plaza collapse planned to inspect the factory buildings and formed the alliance.

The 101 members of the will Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety implement its safety plan in five years. Every member of the platform will provide $ 25 lakh in five years. The cumulated amount would be spent in improving the workplace conditions of the country’s RMG sector.

Thirty teams will initially begin assessing 2000 clothing factories in eight weeks with plans to inspect 1,000 factories on structural integrity, fire and electrical safety, according to Mehedi Ahmed Ansary, a professor of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

The government has sought the help of the university for the inspection.

The inspections begin as Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry struggles to rebuild its image after the April deaths at Rana Plaza, the country’s worst industrial disaster.

Officials have so far conducted visual surveys only and the latest audits are the government’s first full-fledged assessment of structural and fire safety, Labour Secretary Mikail Shipar told a media. “We had to sit with so many stakeholders in the garment industry,??? said Shipar. “Then we had to make sure the standards are consistent with local laws and the national building code. That’s why it took so long.???

In October, a fire at a garment factory on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka killed at least seven, renewing safety concerns. Two retailer groups that include companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) this week also agreed to improve work safety inspection standards in the Asian country.

The inspections came after a meeting chaired by Shipar and attended by factory owners, trade unions and government agencies, according to the website of the International Labor Organization, which will act as a facilitator.

The Alliance is led by North American companies, and the Accord, whose members include H&M, were present at the meeting. The Alliance’s members include Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney Co., Gap Inc., Target Corp. and Macy’s Inc.

-Rahat Rafe


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