Assessment of structural integrity and fire safety of RMG factories to begin in September

Press release | 22 August 2013

DHAKA (ILO News) – Representatives of the Government of Bangladesh, employers’ and workers’ organizations and the International Labour Organization (ILO) agreed on Wednesday that initial structural integrity and fire safety assessments of buildings housing RMG factories will begin in September.
 
The National Tripartite Committee, responsible for implementing the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Structural Integrity and Fire Safety in the RMG Sector in Bangladesh (NAP), agreed that teams led by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) will undertake the assessments.
 
In order to ensure uniformity, it was also agreed that a national standard for fire safety and structural assessments of all active RMG factories in Bangladesh will be set and adopted by the Committee, to be followed by all parties.
 
The second meeting of the National Tripartite Committee was chaired by Mr. Mikail Shipar, Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, who said:
 
“This is an important step in our efforts to ensure a safe working environment for all in the ready-made garment sector. It is vital that the assessments begin as soon as possible and that all use the uniform national standard as their basis.”
 
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) will share necessary documents related to factory design and layout with the Committee to facilitate a smooth assessment process. The Committee also agreed to share the national standards with all relevant stakeholders at a technical workshop to be held on 7 September. The ILO will offer technical assistance as requested.
 
The Director of the ILO’s Country Office for Bangladesh, Mr. Srinivas Reddy shared areas identified as priorities by the Committee to support the fulfilment of national commitments, which include: the assessment of factories, strengthening labour inspection, training on occupational safety and health and the rehabilitation of those disabled and injured. The Committee requested the ILO’s support and technical expertise to assist implementation of the National Action Plan.

On the issue of strengthening the labour inspection system, the Ministry of Labour informed that 4 inspectors have already been recruited and it is expected that 72 will be on board by October. A recruitment process for a further 128 inspectors will be initiated in November this year.
 
The integrated National Tripartite Plan of Action was formally signed on July 25, 2013 and identifies activities in three key areas – legislative and policy, administrative, and practical. The practical activities under consideration include the structural integrity and fire safety assessments, developing and distributing educational tools on rights and occupational safety and health to workers and middle managers, and redeploying and rehabilitating workers affected by the recent accidents