The Bangladesh Government has completed the inspection phase of its efforts to assess export-oriented ready-made garment (RMG) factories for structural, fire and electrical safety with emphasis now switching to remediation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said in a press release.
A total of 1475 RMG factories had been assessed by the deadline of October 31. The government’s efforts were supported by the ILO with the backing of Canada, the Netherlands and the UK. A further 2,185 factories have been inspected by the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments (DIFE) said, “Following Rana Plaza, commitments were made to assess the structural integrity of all active export-oriented RMG factories to identify those with high risk of collapse. Virtually all have now been inspected with 37 closed, helping avoid potential loss of life. We now turn our full attention to the challenge of remediation and ensuring a safer RMG sector for all who work in it.”
A number of significant actions have taken place to underpin the inspection process under the national initiative. These include the harmonization of inspection standards, the establishment of a review panel to assess factories identified as dangerous, and capacity building for, as well as enhanced collaboration between, labour inspectorate and fire service staff who will follow up on inspection reports.
DIFE inspectors have been trained in how to support factories to develop Corrective Action Plans (CAPs) with a pilot initiative taking place to help a first batch of factories to do so. Guidelines for Detailed Engineering Assessments are being developed while transparency has been increased by making 1,778 inspection report summaries available online.
The ILO said considerable progress has been made to develop more accurate lists of RMG factories which are operational in collaboration with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) while a study on remediation financing jointly launched by ILO and IFC is also underway.
“Carrying out these inspections is a significant milestone yet it is only the beginning. Our full attention must now turn to remediation. ILO will help build the capacity of the Bangladesh authorities to put in place an effective system for all remediation and regulatory oversight once the support of partners ends,” Srinivas Reddy, ILO Bangladesh Country Director. (SH)