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Bangladesh: Accord Inspections Uncover Rampant Factory Safety Issues

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has uncovered safety hazards at all of the factories producing for its signatory brands, which include Inditex, H&M and Fast Retailing.

In a statement Tuesday, the Accord, a binding agreement between more than 180 retailers and trade unions to better Bangladesh’s ready made garment industry, said that more than 80,000 safety issues were identified that need to be resolved.

Brad Loewen, the Accord’s chief safety inspector, said,  “We have found safety hazards in all factories, which was to be expected. The safety findings have ranged from minor to significant. The Accord team is now working intensively with factory owners, brands, and labour colleagues to ensure the safety findings are corrected.”

Some of the more minor corrective actions required include reducing weight loads and adhering to load management plans. The more substantial issues uncovered include installing fire doors and automated alarm systems, establishing fire protected exits from the factory buildings and strengthening building columns.

Out of the 1106 factories Accord inspectors surveyed, over 400 Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) have been finalized with factories and company signatories.

In 17 of the factory inspections, inspectors found the building’s structural integrity to be below an acceptable level of safety. For those factories, the Accord recommended temporary evacuation of the buildings. Roughly 110 inspections required immediate action to bring the safety standard to a level that would allow for continued worker occupancy and production. In the others, production has continued while remediation is underway.

The Accord was established in May last year following a tragic building collapse at the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh that left more than 1,000 dead, and since then, the organization has worked toward improving safety standards in the low-wage nation.

Alan Roberts, the Accord’s executive director of international operations, said, “We welcome the continued commitment from global brands and retailers and local and global unions to supporting the remediation efforts in Ready-Made Garment (RMG) supply chains in Bangladesh.” He added, “The next phase of the Accord will focus on the implementation and monitoring of the corrective action plans and rolling out the training and worker participation program – including establishing credible labour-management occupational safety and health committees at the factory level.”