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Dhaka Tribune

CPD: Despite progress, there are still key concerns in the RMG sector

Concern remains for the RMG industry as a small increase in accidents recently and a number of worker deaths in workplace accidents could be observed in the period after Accord handed over the implementation of its program in Bangladesh to the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC)

Update : 20 Apr 2023, 10:27 PM

Despite the progress, a number of emerging concerns on industrial safety in the RMG industry raised more concerns regarding sustainability of several legal, institutional and operational measures and initiatives undertaken in the industry over the past years.

The Center for Policy Research (CPD) recently launched a report titled “Civil Society Monitoring on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in Bangladesh's RMG Sector.”

In the report, CPD said that Bangladesh's readymade garments (RMG) industry had made significant improvements in OSH over the last decade, especially in the years after the Rana Plaza accident.

However, concern remains for the RMG industry as a small increase in accidents recently and a number of worker deaths in workplace accidents could be observed in the period after Accord handed over the implementation of its program in Bangladesh to the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), the report said.

The report stated that there is an increase in the number of accidents that occurred in the RMG industry. The number was 180 in 2021, an increase from 177 in 2020.

Moreover, the total number of deaths of workers in the RMG industry due to workplace accidents in 2017 and 2018 was 15 and 10. In 2019 and 2020, the same number was reduced to only 2 and 1. However, in the very next year 2021, the number jumped to 13.

After the Rana Plaza accident, all the export-oriented RMG factories were targeted for structural, fire and electrical safety inspection and follow-up remediation which led to the creation of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.

These two buyer-driven groups undertook inspections of approximately 2,230 factories while the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), with ILO's support, took responsibility for the rest of the 1,549 factories through the Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC).

Over the years, DIFE has increased its technical and institutional capacity.

In the 2020-2021 fiscal year (FY), the total number of overall inspections was 47,361. Out of these, 6,227 were in the RMG industry.

However, the number of inspections by DIFE has decreased compared to the previous fiscal year, both for the overall and RMG industry. 

In FY2021–22, DIFE conducted 43,644 inspections in factories, shops and establishments. Of these, 3,560 were in the RMG industry.

However, more than the number of inspections, the quality of safety inspection still remains a major barrier. The inspectors allegedly do not perform their inspections as they are mandated to.

Regarding RCC, as of October 2022, the remediation progress for active factories remained limited to 54%.

Regarding the Industrial Safety Unit (ISU), the report stated that there is no recent update found on how ISU is conducting its activities now.

In 2019, Accord signatory brands and employers created the RMG Sustainability Council (RSC), a registered company in Bangladesh, to conduct Accord operations in Bangladesh.

As of January 2023, RSC covered a total of 1,828 factories and the progress rate for correction of the initial findings was 91.32% in January 2023.

Of its 1,828 covered factories, 500 have already completed 100% initial safety hazard remediation. Another 1,300 factories also have a progress rate of 91%.

The report recommended that ongoing monitoring of industrial safety and OSH in the RMG industry is not adequate to ensure long-term sustainability.

Hence, an institutional and operational review of key monitoring authorities and initiatives needs to be carried out.


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