The Alliance For Bangladesh Worker Safety, also known as the Alliance, has completed all the required safety upgrades to prevent possible structural, electrical or fire-induced damages in 85% of the RMG factories, according to its fourth annual report released on Wednesday.
“Overhauling safety in hundreds of factories is a massive undertaking, and we are incredibly proud of what the Alliance has accomplished together with our partners in just four short years,” said Jim Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance, at the unveiling ceremony in Dhaka.
The latest progress report indicates that the Alliance is on track to complete nearly all Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), with the exception of the newly added and expanding factories.
They are expected to conclude transition of safety monitoring operations to trusted local partners by 2018.
Moriarty, also a former US ambassador to Bangladesh, added: “Until we achieve our mandate, fortifying safety in the Alliance factories and equipping workers with empowerment tools will remain our laser focus.”
He also stressed the necessity of a dedicated, credible team to regularly monitor factories to ensure workplace safety.
An independent and credible monitoring team will ensure that technical decisions on safety issues in a factory cannot be influenced by non-technical people, and people cannot intervene and say that the factory is safe, he added.
The team's job will also involve making sure that the RMG factories ascertain physical safety, fire and electrical issues are addressed, and workers' training continues, the Alliance executive director said.
As per the annual report, 80% of high-priority repairs and 234 Alliance-affiliated factories have completed all material items in their CAPs.
However, 162 non-compliant factories have been suspended from the Alliance compliance list for failing to demonstrate adequate improvement made to ensure workplace safety.
“Our factories are demonstrably safer today than when the Alliance began. The hard work that factory owners have undertaken since 2013 is now paying off, as hundreds of factories are reaching CAP closure,” said Moriarty.
According to the report, democratically elected Workers' Safety Committee has been introduced in 171 RMG factories to empower workers to raise voice on safety concerns.
Furthermore, more than 1.4 million workers have been trained in basic fire safety, and 1.3 million have participated in refresher courses. Nearly 27,000 security guards have been trained in fire safety leadership, and nearly 20,000 have received refresher training, the report said.
The Alliance is a consortium of 28 major global retailers which was formed with the intent of improving safety standards in the RMG industry of Bangladesh following the events of Rana Plaza collapse in 2013.
After the conclusion of Alliance in July 2018, Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC), an initiative of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, will monitor the safety issues.