Authorities urged to prepare for enhanced building and fire safety role

Bangladesh needs to ready its institutional, regulatory and oversight mechanisms relating to building and fire safety to ensure a safe working environment in the ready-made garment sector once the current support from external partners ends a workshop heard today.

Media advisory | Dhaka, Bangladesh | 17 September 2014
Bangladesh needs to ready its institutional, regulatory and oversight mechanisms relating to building and fire safety to ensure a safe working environment in the ready-made garment sector once the current support from external partners ends a workshop heard today.
 
The workshop entitled ‘Institutional Collaboration on Strengthening Building and Fire Safety Inspection Systems in the RMG Sector’ brought together key government institutions, employers and workers organisations to explore areas and opportunities for more effective collaboration on building, fire and electrical safety.
 
It was jointly organized by the Government of Bangladesh as well as two International Labour Organization (ILO) initiatives: the Improving Fire and General Building Safety in Bangladesh project funded by the US Department of Labor and the Improving Working Conditions in the RMG sector Programme funded by Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.

“We all recognize that responsibility to ensure a safe ready-made garment sector lies in the hands of the relevant government authorities here in Bangladesh. ILO, international donors, Accord, Alliance and BUET are providing support in this regard by carrying out inspections and providing training. However, we need to look at what comes next and prepare for the day when the authorities are able to carry out this role with confidence and to international standardswithout donor or industry support,”said Mr Srinivas B. Reddy, ILO Country Director.
 
Also speaking at the event, Brig. Gen. Ali Ahmed Kham, Director General of the Fire Service and Civil Defense Department highlighted the need for the modernization of the fire service as well as fire safety regulations in line with internationally acceptable standards.
 
“We have taken a lot of measures to improve fire safety but still many challenges remain such as water and equipment shortages, unregulated buildings and traffic congestion. We must take more preventative measures and increase the number of fire stations in RMG areas. We must also work in a coordinated effort to enhance coordination and ensure better enforcement of fire safety regulations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) expressed his hope that the process would deliver real benefits in the future.

“If we are to modernize existing legal and policy practices relating to building and fire safety inspections and approvals it is instrumental to address the gaps and overlaps in the current legislative and policy environment. We must also put in motion a process to develop a common assessment regime that will greatly benefit the government, employers and workers of Bangladesh,” Mr Ahmed said.

Key national and international stakeholders from the RMG sector participated. This included representatives of government ministries and agencies including the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), Ministry of Housing and Public Works, Ministry of Home Affairs, Capital Development Authority of Bangladesh (RAJUK) as well as the Fire Safety and Civil DefenseDepartment. The workshop was also attended by representatives of the Bangladesh Employers Federation (BEF), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufactures and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Accord, Alliance, National Coordination Committee for Workers Education (NCCWE), and IndustriAll Bangladesh Council (IBC). Technical agencies such as BUET as well as civil society organizations were also invited to participate.

Ready-Made Garment (RMG) is a strategic sector for the Bangladeshi economy, with an estimate of 3,500 export factories in operation, providing employment for over 4.2 million workers. Industry exports totalled $21.5 billion in 2012-2013, making Bangladesh one of the world's leading apparel exporters

For more information contact please contact:


Steve Needham, email: needham@ilo.orgmob: +88 01787 680995
Abdullah Al Muyid, email:muyid@ilo.org mob: +88 01713 068384