Inspection checklist a new step in labour inspectorate reform

A new inspection checklist developed by the Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) with the support of ILO’s RMG programme funded by Canada, the Netherlands and United Kingdom came into force on 1 January 2017. It marks another major step in the process of creating a modern, credible and transparent labour inspectorate for Bangladesh. ILO Programme Officer Hasina Begum explains just why the check list is so important.

News | 02 February 2017
The inspection checklist in action ©ILO
Why is this checklist necessary?
The check list is the key tool for labour inspectors to collect information on factories in a systematic and comprehensive manner. That data is then used to encourage or require employers to improve the factory to comply with the law.

What happened previously?

Previously there was no comprehensive, uniform list in use.  After the Rana Plaza collapse in 2013, DIFE did adopt a check list that was applicable to garment factories however that had a building and structural safety focus and excluded all other sectors.

In view of these limitations, ILO joined with DIFE to develop a new list that covers RMG as well as other bigger factories. It is also more comprehensive as it includes building and structural safety as well as occupational safety and health, employment conditions and service issues. Developed in line with the Bangladesh Labour Act and the Labour Rules it is basically a translation of the regulatory provisions into a practical tool. This check list also considers areas not explicitly covered in the law such as violence against women in the workplace and gender-based discrimination.

How was it developed?
The list was initially developed by inspectors themselves with the support of ILO’s technical experts and specialists. DIFE then field-tested the list in certain priority sectors to assess operational aspects such as how functional it is, how much time it takes to complete, whether the language is friendly etc. During testing, employers and workers were consulted at the enterprise level. Consultations also took place with government, employers and workers organisations as well as with various NGOs, UN agencies such as UNFPA, research institutions and development partners including GIZ. The list was also made available to comments on the DIFE website.

What sectors does it cover?
It is a factory inspection checklist that covers RMG factories as well as other large factories in sectors such as cement, glass, jute and textiles. However it is broadly applicable to all large factories. The check list is a living document. Over time there will always be changes in any sector so it is important that there is flexibility and that changes can be made. DIFE is also developing other checklists for the construction, ship breaking/building, hotel/restaurant, shops and establishments and shrimp sectors.

What difference will this check list make?
ILO’s RMG sector project has been supporting DIFE to develop a modern, credible and transparent labour inspectorate since 2013. This check list is a fundamental tool that will contribute to the establishment of such a system. It will basically help DIFE to do its job better by obtaining information in a more systematic and comprehensive manner. It will also help DIFE leadership to make informed management decisions as well as carry out follow up actions.

Paper or technology?
A paper based check list will initially be used, however the target is that by mid-2017 the entire process will carried out via an app which the project is helping to develop. Once the automated system is in place, reports will be generated through the system and it will be much easier for the DIFE to assess and act on information.

How does the checklist fit into wider DIFE reforms?
This check list forms part of a management reform road map that ILO has helped DIFE to develop and implement. Other elements include Standard Operating Procedures, an integrated knowledge management system, the establishment of technical units as well as comprehensive training. Other donors such as Denmark and GiZ are also supporting DIFE in various areas.