Bangladesh factories still dangerous, inspectors say | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 14.10.2014
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Bangladesh factories still dangerous, inspectors say

Rampant safety issues have been discovered at more than a thousand clothing factories in Bangladesh. The country has been under pressure to improve its safety record after last year's building collapse.

Inspectors hired by a group of Western clothing brands have found more than 80,000 safety violations in more than 1,000 Bangladeshi garment factories - and not one was given a clean bill of health.

"We have found safety hazards in all factories," Brad Loewen, chief safety inspector for the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, said Tuesday.

The Accord is an agreement between more than 180 largely European apparel makers including H&M and Adidas. Signatories pledge to increase safety standards at Bangladeshi factories.

It was signed in the wake of the April 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, in which an eight-story building near Dhaka that housed garment factories collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers.

The agreement requires independent inspections and public reporting of the results. The group is demanding remedial action after identifying widespread safety violations at the 1,106 factories it inspected.

Each facility was visited three times to check for fire, electrical and structural safety. The Accord is now working with factory owners, brands and labor colleagues to implement safety recommendations, Loewen said.

Some of these measures include reinforcement of support columns and the installation of approved fire doors and alarms.

While these structural issues are being addressed, inspectors asked Bangladeshi authorities to impose immediate evacuation orders and to suspend production at 17 factories deemed to have a heightened risk of collapse.

The next phase would be to monitor the corrective action plans and start a training program to organize occupational health and safety committees for workers, an Accord spokesperson said.

In the meantime, the country's $22 billion garment industry is seeing a slump in exports as clients turn to more politically stable countries with better safety records - like India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

el/sgb (Reuters)