WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety said Monday it has appointed a new chief safety officer to oversee factory remediation, fire safety operations and training at garment factories in Bangladesh that have undergone extensive inspections in the wake of factory tragedies there.
Mark Chubb, who has more than 30 years’ experience in fire safety and emergency management and most recently served as president of the USA Branch of the Institution of Fire Engineers in Seattle and fire chief of a King County fire district there, was named to the newly created position.
“Mark will ensure that the Alliance continues to bring world-class expertise to factory remediation and fire safety programs for Bangladesh garment workers,” said Alliance independent chair Ellen Tauscher. “His role as an adviser will be critical to factories from which the Alliance sources, as they ensure compliance with our strict standards.”
The Bangladesh garment industry has faced global scrutiny in the past two years in the wake of two tragedies that claimed the lives of more than 1,240 people. Two private sector initiatives were later launched to address the systemic structural and fire and electrical safety issues.
The Alliance — comprised of 28 brands led by Target Corp., VF Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Gap Inc. — which sources from about 587 factories in Bangladesh, completed its first year of inspections in July. The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, a consortium of unions and 190 European and North American retailers and brands, completed inspections in 1,106 factories in September. The Accord and Alliance share about 340 additional factories.
The National Action Plan led by the International Labor Organization and the Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology has another 1,750 factories, 600 of which have been inspected so far. Remediation of the factories and training is a massive undertaking. One official at the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association put the price tag of remediation at about $3 billion for about 1,000 factories that will be required to relocate.
Chubb will oversee just the factories from which Alliance members source.