Bangladesh Accord Issues First 10 Factory Inspection Reports

They identify safety issues that should be addressed and steps to be taken to resolve them, some of which are already underway. The reports do not highlight any issue as serious as the construction flaws that caused the collapse of the Rana Plaza in April 2013.

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety has completed and posted the first 10 reports of factory inspections it is conducting as a result of an accord signed in May 2013 by global apparel brands and retailers. The legally binding Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was signed in response to the Rana Plaza factory building collapse April 24, 2013, which killed 1,133 workers.

The accord's mission it to ensure garment manufacturing workplaces in Bangladesh are safe and sustainable for their employees; it is a key industry in the nation’s economy, but fires and the Rana Plaza collapse brought worldwide outrage and promises to cooperate by more than 150 brands and retailers from 20 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. Two global trade unions, IndustriALL and UNI, together with their local affiliates, also signed it.

According to the accord, these initial reports "do not highlight any issues of a similar magnitude to those which caused the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013. They do identify a number of issues to be addressed and explain the steps to be taken to resolve them. Some of these steps are already underway." These reports cover the first 30 inspections of 10 factories and were conducted in December 2013; by September 2014, 38 teams of international fire, electrical, and structural engineers, working with Bangladeshi engineers and technicians, will conduct inspections of 1,500 factories in all.

"The publication of these reports is an important milestone in the accord's progress and a demonstration of our commitment to transparency, but it is only really the beginning of our work," said Alan Roberts, the Bangladesh Accord Foundation's executive director of International Operations. "There is a big task ahead of the inspection teams, and the accord will be working hard with signatory brands, union signatories, workers at the factories, and the factory owners themselves to see that the actions the inspections identify are undertaken."

In a statement, Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, said transparency is a key for success. "The inspection reports contain an unprecedented level of detail and sets a new standard in transparency and credibility. The reports provide the necessary measures for the continuous work to make the Bangladesh garment industry safe and sustainable," Raina said.

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