Some 21 readymade garment factories in Bangladesh have implemented the internationally recognised occupational health and safety (OHS) standards for industrial workers and workplace safety. The benefits of ensuring health and safety of garment workers have been translated to increasing worker retention and productivity as well as the mitigation of massive cost burdens that workplace accidents and hazards entail.
These days, Bangladesh’s industrial sector has addressed the specific issues of fire, building and electric safety. Until now, OHS measures implemented in the industry were sporadic and disorganised in their approaches. A holistic approach is now being adopted to address OHS through operationalising of a management standard. There are potential benefits to adopting OHS measures to factories and the industry at large. These include greater acceptability in the compliance-sensitive western markets, which took on added importance following the tragic incidents of Rana Plaza and Tazreen.
The garment sector in Bangladesh had no choice but to adhere to norms. The export contract stipulated such binding agreements. Failure to comply meant that orders were cancelled and shifted elsewhere. It was not only the quality of the product that mattered the working environment in which garments were produced was also given equal attention.