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Alliance Says Bangladesh Factories “Demonstrably Safer” Than Pre-Rana Plaza

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety seems to be keeping good on its word that the majority of the factory remediation efforts it’s overseeing will be done before its time in Bangladesh is up.

In its fourth annual report released Wednesday, the Alliance said 85 percent of all required factory repairs have been completed.

“Our factories are demonstrably safer today than when the Alliance began—and the hard work that factory owners have undertaken since 2013 is now paying off, as hundreds of factories are reaching CAP [corrective action plan] closure,” Alliance Executive Director Amb. Jim Moriarty, said. “Until we achieve our mandate, fortifying safety in Alliance factories and equipping workers with empowerment tools will remain our laser focus.”

[Read more about Bangladesh: Bangladesh Gets $457 Million in World Bank Financing to Aid Garment Industry and Infrastructure]

A total of 785 factories fall under the program’s purview, making garments for brands like Macy’s, Target, Walmart and Nordstrom. Of its currently active 658 factories, 85 percent have completed all of their remediation items, and still others have addressed the most pressing safety issues. Efforts have included reinforcing structural columns, importing fire doors that are up to standard and installing sprinkler systems in case of fires. Four times more factories completed their remediation in the third quarter ended in September, than in the first and second quarters combined, the Alliance said.

What’s more, the Alliance said 162 non-compliant factories have been suspended from its factory list, 1.4 million workers have been trained in basic fire safety, nearly 27,000 security guards have been trained in fire safety leadership and as many as 1.3 million workers across 941 Alliance and non-Alliance factories have access to a confidential worker helpline where they can report unsafe conditions.

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“Both the status and accelerated pace of progress demonstrate that efforts to remediate safety issues in Alliance factories are on track,” the report noted. “We remain confident that nearly all our current active factories will complete remediation before the Alliance sunsets in 2018, with the exception of factories joining the program or expanding shortly before the Alliance sunsets.”

The Alliance and the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety said they would leave their posts once their program tenures are up in 2018, though the Accord was recently granted a six month extension in the event things can’t yet be smoothly transitioned to Bangladesh’s self-run Shonman agency that will take over the task of improving and maintaining safety standards at factories.

Though the bulk of its remediation efforts are expected to be completed before its program is up in May, the hope is that what’s already been done will continue to guide what will remain to be done.

“This achievement represents a starting line for these factories, for whom maintaining rigorous safety standards must remain an ongoing priority—and we are committed to transitioning our program in a way that paves the way for sustainable progress beyond 2018,” Moriarty said.