23 Oct Alliance For Bangladesh Worker Safety Update
In its ongoing effort to improve building and fire safety standards across the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety announced a number of essential milestones achieved during the past 30 days. These include the release of the list of Alliance member factories, adoption of fire and building safety standards, and investments in the organization’s technical expertise and on-the-ground staffing in Bangladesh.
Supplier Disclosure: The Alliance has publicly released supplier information for more than 620 factories represented by its membership. The disclosure includes data such as factory name, address, number of workers, and building composition, which will be important in prioritizing and implementing inspections. The list also notates factories that are manufacturing goods for members of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Shared suppliers make up approximately 50 percent of the Alliance factory list, underscoring the need for combined efforts on behalf of garment industry workers.
By releasing this information, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety hopes to be taking yet another step towards partnership on coordinated trainings, inspections and remedial support. Achieving this will require concerted and sustained efforts to work with government, the International Labor Organization (ILO), industry, workers, factory management and civil society. In accordance with the Alliance Members’ Agreement, the full list of factories was shared with the Fair Factories Clearinghouse in September. The list represents input from the Alliance founding membership. The list is a work in progress and as new members join, they too will be sharing factory information.
“We recognize the urgent need to continue moving quickly to improve safety conditions because the garment workers of Bangladesh expect us to deliver on our promises,” said Jeffrey Krilla, Alliance President. “As our membership grows in number and global reach, we will continue working quickly and diligently on our next series of goals, and welcome collaboration with other interested parties in Bangladesh and around the globe to achieve results.”
Adoption of Fire and Building Safety Standards: To carry forward with establishing its next set of milestones, the Alliance’s Board adopted its Fire Safety and Structural Integrity Standards and established a committee of third-party experts to assist in its implementation. The Standards are a meaningful contribution to the shared effort to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector. The Alliance Standards align with the Bangladesh National Building Code, and are reflective of input received from multiple expert stakeholders during their development. The Alliance will continue to use these standards as the basis for ongoing collaboration among all entities invested in ensuring that inspections and remediation efforts are as consistent as possible.
Committee of Experts: The Alliance also appointed two technical experts to its Committee of Experts (COE). The COE will aid in the implementation of the Alliance Fire and Building Safety Standards and inspection process. Dr. Ishtaique Ahmed is a professor of civil engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology with more than 25 years of academic experience. Tracey Bellamy, Chief Engineering Officer for Telgian Corporation, is a fire protection engineer with 25 years of field experience in fire protection plan review and system inspection, code development and analysis, and fire hazard analysis. These individuals are professionals who are certified, credentialed or recognized authorities and/or specialists in fire and building structural safety, from both the United States and Bangladesh. Their responsibilities include assessing and approving qualified inspectors, reviewing remediation efforts and auditing and validating inspection reporters.
Safety Inspections: The Alliance member companies have committed to inspecting 100% of the factories from which it sources within its first year. To date, more than half of the factories utilized by Alliance members have undergone fire safety and building safety inspections. An expert review process will soon begin to assess these inspections against the Alliance Standards. Any inspection that does not meet the requirements of the Alliance Standards will be subject to a subsequent inspection, to ensure they meet the requirements of the Alliance Standards. Additionally, 25% of factories from which Alliance members source have undergone fire safety training.
Local Expertise: The Alliance recognizes the importance of utilizing on-the-ground employees in order to build local skills and capacity, and is making substantial investments in hiring local staff and technical experts. To date, the organization has hired staff including a Director of Assessment, Director of Training and Civil Engineer. Bangladeshi Alliance staff are working in collaboration with external partners, coordinating the inspection process and providing safety training guidance.
The factory list and updated standards can be downloaded at www.bangladeshworkersafety.org.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was founded by a group of North American apparel companies and retailers and brands who have joined together to develop and launch the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, a binding, five-year undertaking that will be transparent, results-oriented, measurable and verifiable with the intent of improving safety in Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) factories. Collectively, these Alliance members represent the overwhelming majority of North American imports of RMG from Bangladesh, produced at more than 620 factories.
The current group of 23 includes the following companies: Ariela Alpha International, LLC, Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited; Carter’s Inc.; The Children’s Place Retail Stores Inc.; Costco Wholesale Corporation; Fruit of the Loom ,Gap Inc.; Hudson’s Bay Company; IFG Corp.; Intradeco Apparel; J.C. Penney Company Inc.; The Jones Group Inc.; Jordache Enterprises, Inc.; Kohl’s Department Stores; L. L. Bean Inc.; M. Hidary & Company, Inc., Macy’s; Nordstrom Inc.; Public Clothing Company; Sears Holdings Corporation; Target Corporation; VF Corporation; and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Supporting associations include: American Apparel & Footwear Association, BRAC, Canadian Apparel Federation, National Retail Federation, Retail Council of Canada, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel. In addition, Li & Fung, a major Hong Kong-based sourcing company which does business with many members of the Alliance, will serve in an advisory capacity.