Garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh

More than four years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that left more than 1,100 people dead, a new report noted some significant improvements — but unresolved safety hazards remain.

Initiated in May 2013 — just weeks after the catastrophe — the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has led to 1,800-plus factories receiving initial fire, electrical and structural safety inspections, which identified more than 100,000 safety hazards. Representatives from the Accord have aligned with factory owners, companies and labor reps to remediate these safety hazards and empower workers to address safety concerns through factory-level safety committees and an independent venue for safety complaints.

The Accord’s objective is to develop a safety program to make Ready Made Garment factories in Bangladesh safe. The legally binding agreement has been signed by more than 220 garment brands and retailers and two global unions and their national RMG affiliates.

Rob Wayss, executive director and acting chief safety inspector of the Accord, said, “The achievements are laudable with 65 fully remediated factories and more than 400 factories which have completed more than 90 percent of required safety remediation. We must remain vigilant to drive remediation to completion as we still see too many factories with major safety concerns unfixed.”

With the Accord in its fifth year, companies that have signed up are committed to supporting factories they source from in their remediation. The Accord is launching a direct financial support program for covered factories that have no current business relationships with Accord signatory companies.

“We need to ensure that major and costly safety measures, such as protected fire exits, fire alarm and fire protection systems and structural retrofitting work can and will be remediated urgently,” says Joris Oldenziel, head of public affairs at the Netherlands office of the Accord. “The Accord Remediation Fund will provide qualified suppliers with access to direct funding for 50 percent of the remaining remediation costs for covered factories on a first-come first-serve basis.”

Further emphasis will be placed on establishing the Safety Committee and Safety Training program for as many factories as possible and to help them address safety complaints filed at factory Safety Committees or through the Accord’s safety complaints venue.

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