Fixing factories: workshop looks at remediation in the RMG sector

The collapse of Rana Plaza with the death of 1,136 garment workers in April 2013 resulted in the urgent need for Bangladesh’s approx. 3,500 Ready Made Garment factories to be checked for structural and fire safety.

Carried out by groups representing international brands and retailers as well as a national initiative the inspection process is scheduled to be completed by early 2015. Focus is now moving to remediation measures; how the recommendations from inspections are put into practice.
A workshop was held 13-14 October in Dhaka by ILO’s Improving Fire and General Building Safety in Bangladesh project which is funded by the US Department of Labor. It brought together key stakeholders from the RMG sector to share information on approaches taken by different initiatives on building, fire and electrical safety remediation measures.
The event sought to exchange experiences and explore areas and challenges for potential collaboration; including setting a common protocol for fire, electrical and building safety for remediation and oversight of the RMG factories. Of special interest were the experiences of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, the groups representing international brands and retailers which have carried out a large number of inspections and are facilitating remediation work where needed.
Speaking at the event ILO Country Director Srinivas B Reddy said, “This is an important stage in the ongoing process of generating a stronger and more efficient framework to ensure the safety of the RMG sector. We are facilitating collaboration between relevant agencies to strengthen their ability to carry out this role once external support from brands and retailers comes to an end.”
Maurice Brooks, ILO Fire Safety Expert said, “It needs to be clear what needs to be done regarding remediation: how it will be carried out, how it will be approved, and how it will be monitored. The Accord and Alliance have significant know-how in this field and it is important to learn from their experiences.”
Other issues discussed during the two-day event included how to verify the qualifications of consultants to provide remediation advice to RMG factories as well as the standards of safety equipment such as fire doors.
Taking part in the workshop were Mr. Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, Professor Dr. Ishtiaque Ahmed from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and representatives, Major AKM Shakil Newaz from Fire Safety and Civil Defense Department, Mr. Rob Wayss Executive Director Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, Mr. Rabin Mesbah from the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and representatives from Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Ministry of Home Affairs and Capital Development Authority (Rajuk).