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Workplace Safety

 

The readymade garment industry which changed lives of millions of people in Bangladesh has undergone significant transformation in terms of workplace safety. The paradigm shift in the sector has emanated from our firm commitment to ensuring safety of our workers. Brands and retailers who compete in the corporate world every day are working hand in hand with other stakeholders for the cause of safe and decent working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry, setting an unique example of multi-stakeholders collaboration in the business world.

European brands and buyers formed the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety while North American brands and buyers initiated a platform namely the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and National Tripartite Action Plan for Building and Fire Safety was adopted by the government of Bangladesh to ensure workplace safety in RMG industry. Accord, Alliance and NAP completed inspection of around 3600 factories; of them only around 1 percent were found vulnerable and shut down immediately. Moreover, remediation in the factories which got Corrective Action Plan (CAP) from the safety platforms is going on.

The government of Bangladesh and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have launched Better Work program for the readymade garment industry in Bangladesh. The initiative focuses on ensuring fire and structural safety in ready-made garment factories and protecting the rights of workers.

As the largest association of garment manufacturers and exporters, BGMEA is determined to ensure workplace safety in the RMG industry. Apart from collaborating with different stakeholders, the trade body itself has taken a number of steps to address the issue of workplace safety in its member factories. The following instructions were given by BGMEA to its member factories to comply with on mandatory basis --

  • ·        Move the generators from any level of the building to the ground floor. Keep all the stairs free for easy and convenient entry and exit to and from the factory floors at all time. No goods/materials are to be kept on the stairs/passage, which might cause obstruction for free movement of personnel.

  • ·        Factories must keep all the gates open during working hours.

  • ·         Check fire alarm and emergency lights at regular intervals. Arrange required number of fire extinguisher, ensure sufficient water in hydrant and install hose-reel and other related equipment serviceable for use. Factories should hold Fire Drill as per rule and keep records of all such activities.

BGMEA proactively recruited a team of experts in order to assess structural integrity and electrical safety of the garment factories of Bangladesh. BGMEA launched a Crash Program to impart fire safety training to the employees of factories. Under the Crash Program around 20,000 mid-level factory management and supervisors in around 2300 factories have so far been given training by BGMEA on fire safety measures. BGMEA has also recruited 35 fire trainers. The trainers who are ex-officials of Bangladesh Fire Defense Service, Air Force or Bangladesh Navy have undergone high-skill one-month Training of Trainers (Tot) course on fire prevention, fire extinction, safe evacuation, search, rescue and first aid. The trainers are conducting safety courses at the member factories of BGMEA. Besides, BGMEA conducts fire drill programs in its member factories on regular basis to raise awareness among factory workers about fire safety.

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