In its four years post-Rana Plaza progress report, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh said the garment industry there has “significantly improved,” though just 4 percent of factories under the Accord have been fully remediated.
Since 2013, the Accord—which counts Inditex, H&M and Adidas among its signatory brands—has inspected more than 1,800 factories for fire, electrical and structural safety, and uncovered more than 100,000 safety hazards.
To date, 65 of the Accord’s estimated 1,599 factories, or just 4 percent, have been fully remediated, though the program says many more factories are on their way to completing remediation efforts.
“The unprecedented model of independent inspections, collective brand leverage, public disclosure, accountability and bi-partite governance has proven to be successful,” Accord executive director and acting chief safety inspector Rob Wayss said. “The achievements are laudable with 65 fully remediated factories and more than 400 factories which have completed more than 90 percent of required safety remediation. We must remain vigilant to drive remediation to completion as we still see too many factories with major safety concerns unfixed.”
By comparison, in its own progress update, the Bangladesh Alliance for Worker Safety (which is backed by U.S. brands like Target, Walmart and Macy’s), said last week that 76 of its more than 700 factories, or 11 percent, have been fully remediated.
The Accord said it has resolved more than 90 safety complaints from workers and that more than 300 joint labor-management safety committees are being trained to monitor factory safety on a day-to-day basis.
To make the most of its efforts as it comes into its fifth and final year, the Alliance said it will launch a direct financial support program for covered factories that don’t have current business relationships with Accord signatory brands.
“We need to ensure that major and costly safety measures, such as protected fire exits, fire alarm and fire protection systems and structural retrofitting work can and will be remediated urgently,” said Joris Oldenziel, head of public affairs at the Accord’s Netherlands office. “The Accord Remediation Fund will provide qualified suppliers with access to direct funding for 50 percent of remaining remediation costs for covered factories with no current Accord business. This direct support is limited and will be implemented on a first come first serve basis.”
Beyond that, the Accord said apparel brands, retailers and unions are in talks about how to carry safety and compliance efforts forward in Bangladesh once the initiative is no longer in place.