WASHINGTON — The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Fire Protection Association to strengthen fire safety in garment factories in Bangladesh.
The alliance, which includes Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Gap Inc., VF Corp. and Target Corp., was formed over a year ago in the wake of two tragedies in Bangladesh that claimed the lives of more than 1, 240 workers. The alliance’s collaboration with the NFPA will provide its 26 member companies and some 587 factories from which they source, as well as thousands of workers in Bangladesh, with access to an array of fire training resources.
It is a four-year partnership that the alliance said will raise awareness of NFPA’s codes, standards and resources in the garment industry, expand training and education through the implementation of fire and electrical system safety programs for workers and factory management and provide information to help workers recognize and prevent workplace hazards at member factories.
“For too many years, the [ready-made garment] industry has not taken enough measures to protect employees and prevent tragedies caused by unsafe working conditions or poor building construction,” said Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the alliance. “Our partnership with NFPA will ensure our member factories will be guided by best practices used around the world and the most up-to-date standards for building and fire safety.”
James Pauley, president of the NFPA, said the association is “committed to working with others who share our interest in helping to prevent life-threatening fire and electrical hazards. We hope these efforts will serve as a catalyst for the government and others who work in Bangladesh to strengthen their fire-safety procedures within the garment industry and beyond,” Pauley said.
Officials from the groups will develop an action plan, working procedures and identify participants’ roles and duties. They will also meet annually to share progress reports that will be made public.