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Bangladesh Alliance Ramps Up Worker Safety Program

Significant progress has been made to improve conditions at garment factories in Bangladesh.

That’s according to the third annual report from the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, released Wednesday, which said high-priority critical repairs have been completed over the last three years at 55 percent of its factories.

Those repairs included the import and installation of fire doors, the reinforcement of structural beams and columns and the installation of sprinkler systems.

“By July 2018, all Alliance factories will have either completed their high-priority repairs or have been suspended from the Alliance’s list of suppliers,” said Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance. “Progress toward this goal has been significant and achieving closure on the remaining issues most critical to life safety remains our primary focus.”

To date, 63 percent of all required repairs have been completed. At the same time, 97 factories have been suspended from the list of Alliance-compliant factories for their lack of remediation progress.

According to the report, 40 factories have achieved substantial completion of their Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), while the number of factories with Worker Safety Committees in place to monitor on-site issues has tripled from 16 to 54 since April.

In addition, more than 1.2 million workers have been trained in basic fire safety (nearly 800,000 received an interactive refresher course) and nearly 23,000 security guards have gone through fire safety leadership training.

But a lot remains to be done. The Alliance Helpline receives an average of 4,200 calls each month from workers inside and outside of Alliance factories. Nearly 90,000 calls have been logged since the service was launched in July 2014. To that end, the Alliance is aiming to have Worker Safety Committees in place at most of its factories by July 2018.

“Achieving safety in factories is about more than completing repairs. It must be accompanied by comprehensive efforts to inform, engage and empower the women and men who earn their living in garment factories,” said James Moriarty, country director of the Alliance. “By approaching remediation and empowerment hand in hand, we are working to set the gold standard for garment factories throughout Bangladesh.”