In its latest update, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety reports nearly 60,000 RMG factory safety issues have been reported or verified as fixed.
While more still needs to be done, it is welcome to see it hail what it calls the “real and meaningful progress,” which is taking place within the Bangladesh garment industry.
Since the Rana Plaza disaster, efforts by the government, ILO, and the brand-led multi-stakeholder initiatives, Accord and Alliance, have been making valuable strides in improving the inspection of factories and identifying areas for improvement.
The awareness created and partnerships forged are making a genuine difference in raising standards.
Last year, for instance, there were only five incidents of fires in the whole industry which passed without loss of life. This compares with some 250 officially recorded garment factory fires taking place during 2012, which took the lives of 115 people. The large decline in fires and improved safety rate is a sign of how increased monitoring and growing awareness among workers and factory owners are helping to prevent accidents.
By increasing attention to labour rights issues, the increased focus on safety has also helped ensure the minimum wage was raised after a long hiatus and given a boost to workers organising unions.
Co-operation is key to building the long-term collaboration needed to secure the goal of growing Bangladesh’s garment manufacturing sector as into a safe and sustainable industry.
It is important for all stake-holders to build on the progress made to ensure it can keep investing in upgrading standards. Increasing investment to ensure better conditions and factories will benefit workers, buyers, factory-owners, and consumers alike by helping to enhance productivity and quality, as well as improving safety standards.