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6 years of Rana Plaza tragedy: BD garment factories are now one of the safest workplace

After six years of Rana Plaza tragedy, Bangladesh Readymade Garments (RMG) industry is now standing in a new phase of safety safeguarding for its workers.

Collective efforts of the government, factory owners, Western brands and retailers, trade unions, and two inspection bodies—the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety—have made substantial progress in fire, electrical and structural safety in the garment factories over the past six years. Certainly, garment factories are now safer workplaces than they were before Rana Plaza incident.

Rana Plaza tragedy
Figure: Rana Plaza tragedy on 24 April, 2013 killed more than 1,100 people and injured thousands of others.

As of now, 93% percent of safety remediation has been completed in factories affiliated with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

It was a collaborative process to ensure workplace safety in Bangladesh’s RMG factories, which includes stakeholders from Bangladesh and US governments, apparel retailers – mostly North American, policymakers and rights organizations.

At the same time, 428 Alliance-affiliated factories have implemented their initial Corrective Action Plans (CAPs).

On the other hand, according to the latest data of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, 89% of initial remediation is completed. Total 197 factories have finished the initial remediation, while over 90% remediation is done in 996 RMG factories.

“After Rana Plaza incident, I was very scared to work in the garment factory. However, now I feel very safe to work in this sector and I have inspired my elder daughter to work here.”

Sumaya Begum, a supervisor of an RMG factory

At the same time, the government in association with the International Labor Organization launched an inspection programme for the rest of the apparel factories which were not on the lists of the Alliance and the Accord as both foreign inspection bodies tenure has ended. Alliance already went away from Bangladesh and Accord is on the way to leave.

The government-ILO initiative conducted its initial safety inspection in 1,549 export-oriented garment factories.

6 years of Rana Plaza tragedy BD garment factories

Another achievement of the Bangladesh RMG industry is establishing green factories. 300 green readymade garment (RMG) factories are under construction apart from existing 67 such factories in the country.

“A total of 67 RMG factories have so far been certified as ‘green factories’ by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and of them, 17 factories are included as the platinum class,” said Tofail Ahmed, former Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed.

The world’s best seven factories out of the 10 certified by the USGBC are situated in Bangladesh.

The working environment of garment factories of Bangladesh faced harsh criticism worldwide after the Rana Plaza building collapse tragedy. But the recent situation is completely different as Bangladeshi garment factory owners are now leaning towards constructing green factories.

BGMEA former President Siddiqur Rahman said, “Environment-friendly factories have been established in the country, meeting the best compliance standards of the world. That will increase the confidence of buyers in our clothing industries. It will expand the business as well.”

The working environment is very peaceful “After Rana Plaza incident, I was very scared to work in the garment factory. However, now I feel very safe to work in this sector and I have inspired my elder daughter to work here,” Sumaya Begum, a supervisor of an RMG factory said Textile Today.

Workers and managers are trained up as they can work without any fear of insecurity. They are now very much conscious about the safety issue.

“I know what to do if any problem occurs. We inform the authorities if we observe any type of problem regarding safety. I think, it helps to prevent many massive accidents,” Symaya Begum said.

Yes, Bangladesh RMG industry has reached a safe horizon, but safety is a constant journey. There is no doubt that significant problems remain as garment workers are still struggling to meet their basic rights.

However, the initiatives-taken by millers to improve workers and workplace safety- are praisable. Now need to continue the process of improvement, in that case, if the safety journey continues the remaining problems will not stay for longer.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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