At least 2,000 garment factories in Bangladesh will be inspected in the month of September. The government-led National Tripartite Action Plan on Building and Fire Safety, which is working with employers and worker groups and the International Labour Organization (ILO), say teams led by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) will undertake the assessments. There are also plans to set out a national standard for fire safety and structural assessments as a benchmark for all audits to meet. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has pledged to share documents related to factory design and layout with the Committee, which will also share the national standards with all relevant stakeholders at a workshop on September, 7.
The National Tripartite Committee was set up in response to the fire at Tazreen Fashion last November and the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April which led to the loss of more than 1,200 lives. There are also concerns that Bangladesh's Ministry of Labor is struggling to recruit the 200 factory inspectors it requires. The ILO reveals just four inspectors have been recruited so far, with another 72 due to be on board by October. The recruitment process for another 128 inspectors will begin in November.
Separate schemes are also underway by the North American Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety with its Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, and the European Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh - which between them intend to examine at least 1,500 factories.
They will also offer funds and assistance with remedial action including the relocation and rebuilding of unsafe factories and have set a timeframe to see all their supplier factories inspected within the next nine months to one-year.