A committee has been formed to identify the cause of an explosion late Monday at an apparel factory outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, that killed 10 people and injured more than 40 other workers. The committee must report back within one week.
Local officials said the cause was an outdated boiler that exploded. The accident occurred at a factory owned by Multifabs Ltd. which, according to its website, produces knitted apparel for clients including the British retailer Littlewoods and Spain’s Gor Factory, which makes the brand Roly. It also supplies to companies in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Russia and the Netherlands. The factory began operating in 2006 and its two buildings were constructed in 2005 and 2006.
The unit where the explosion occurred produced 100,000 pieces of garments a day, generating $6 million of revenue a month, Multifabs factory and operations director Mesba Faruqui told Reuters.
Multifabs Limited is covered under the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a compendium of more than 200 brands and retailers –mostly from Europe – who have been working for factory safety since May 2013, and has been inspected for fire, structural and electrical safety.
“Multifabs Ltd has been inspected by Accord engineers. It had completed fire separation of the boiler room, and all other fire and structural safety renovations, except for installation of sprinklers. The Accord does not cover boiler inspections, which are monitored by the Bangladesh government,” IndustiALL Global Union, one of the signatories of the Accord, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The factory showed most inspections completed by April 2014, as well as a follow up on the corrective action plan noted by Accord engineers. Among the unfinished corrections are findings about a hairline crack in the middle portion of the beam on the fourth and fifth floors found in February 2016.
Following this explosion, IndustriALL strengthened its case for the Accord to continue for another three years and noted that this latest tragedy “underlines the need for the work by the Bangladesh Accord to continue, and union signatories to the Accord will demand that it be expanded to include boiler safety as soon as possible.” Although the five-year term of the Accord will be completed by 2018, the Accord signatories revealed another three-year extension plan last week. However, this has stirred controversy within the industry in Bangladesh, which claims it was not consulted about the proposed extension. The Accord covers 1,700 garment factories until 2021, however a 2015 estimate from NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights estimated that there are more than 7,000 apparel factories in the country.
Bangladesh is the world’s second largest apparel exporter, second only to China. The country’s garment industry is notorious for substandard and unsafe working conditions. In 2013, the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 people.
In May, the U.S ambassador to Bangladesh blasted the local government over its lax regulations.