Fire safety is a major issue in Bangladeshi garment factories. Poor electrical installations and bad maintenance often create significant fire hazards. In order to make a safe workplace the norm throughout the sector, we think that it is essential to involve all stakeholders such as the government, industry organisations, trade unions and other brands.
We teamed up with 18 other brands and employer associations in the sector, BGMEA and BKMEA, to spread this training not only in our some 200 supplier factories, but across the entire industry.
This is why we developed two training films to increase fire safety awareness amongst employees at all levels in garment factories. We teamed up with 18 other brands and employer associations in the sector, BGMEA and BKMEA, to spread this training. According to BGMEA, more than 1,250 factories and 100,000 workers received the training.
Based on a study that we conducted in 2011, we raised the concern of lapsed fire-safety licenses with the Government of Bangladesh and engaged the Bangladeshi University of Engineering and Technology as well as a specialist to assess the electrical installation in four factories.
These assessments were finalised in Spring 2012 and their results were presented to concerned stakeholders at a seminar in Dhaka. The most common shortcomings in regards to electrical safety such as poor-quality materials, poor maintenance and lack of proper electrician training were discussed. During the seminar, a number of actions were proposed, including introducing stricter legislation and inspections.
In order to set a good example, we have stipulated that all our supplier factories conduct electrical assessments in their factories, and have offered to share the costs with them.
Together with the Fire Defence and Civil Department, we have also conducted five factory assessments on fire safety, involving the factories’ worker representatives.
The assessments have shown that a continued increase in awareness about fire safety is needed and we hope that the continuation of related training programmes will help to address this issue with stronger impact.