Dhaka: Carrying out safety inspections of RMG factories is an achievement in itself. However safety of workers will only be assured if inspection findings are followed up and acted upon. The fire service has a vital role to play in this regard, ensuring that the practical steps needed to avoid fire risk in factories are taken.
ILO is working closely with the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense (BFSCD) to build the capacity of its staff to have a sustained and effective approach to following up on preliminary assessment findings.
A training workshop held in Dhaka 13 August 2015, brought together senior fire prevention officers to help them better manage the follow-up process and collaborate with counterparts from the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE).
The Inspection of garment factories for structural and fire safety is already a massive task, said Momtaz Uddin Ahmed, Deputy Assistant Director of BFSCD of Narayanganj District. ‘But inspection follow-up and remediation is another major challenge since this is when the actual change happens,’ he added.
The workshop is part of a series which focus on developing a systematic approach to follow-up preliminary assessments and to oversee the implementation of remediation measures in RMG factories. It also sought to strengthen the technical capacity of the process managers as well as fire inspectors to facilitate a smooth process flow and the ability to communicate with factory owners/managers to implement recommendations for remediation as made in the preliminary assessment reports.
Collaboration between government regulators is essential. In this regard, the programme brought together fire inspectors with their counterparts from DIFE who will also be involved in the process. During September further training events will be held for fire service staff who will carry out factory visits alongside labour inspectors to help explain the fire and electrical observations of the reports.
The lessons gained during the workshop are aimed at providing the necessary tools to begin a process that can be replicated in other industries across Bangladesh.
During the event, officials of the Accord and Alliance shared their experiences about the processes and standards they follow when working with the factories their member brands and retailers source from.
Mr. Maurice L Brooks, Project Coordinator, Improving Fire and General Building Safety, US Department of Labor project, highlighted the need for a harmonised approach to follow up by all parties involved.
In order to ensure all preliminary assessments conducted under the National Initiative are followed-up and the remediation phase is overseen, it is necessary to agree on a coordinated approach to avoid duplication, gaps of information and ensure adherence to similar standards by the Accord and Alliance,” he said.
A total of 26 participants from the BFSCD, DIFE, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BKMEA), Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety took part in the event. Also taking part were four district chiefs of the BFSCD from high RMG factory concentration areas who will pass on what they learned to their district staff.
The workshop was organized by the US Department of Labour (USDOL)-funded Improving Fire and General Building Safety in Bangladesh project of ILO.