BANGLADESH: Accord halts production at 12 factories
Production has been suspended in 12 factories supplying a group of brands and retailers in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia following concerns over building safety.
The update is included in a progress report to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
The group is in the midst of inspecting more than 1,500 factories used to supply garments to 172 global brands and retailers, including Benetton, C&A, M&S, H&M and Inditex. The initiative was set up following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex last April with the loss of more than 1,100 lives.
The temporary suspension of production at 12 of the inspected factories came after structural inspections revealed serious safety issues. The building was evacuated for additional strength testing and/or remedial measures taken to allow the safe resumption of production and re-occupancy.
The Accord says it is working with owners, brands, labour representatives and government authorities to facilitate the tests and remediation. The factories are required to pay the workers for up to six months and signatories must ensure sufficient funds are available for renovations and payment of wages during this time.
A total of 1,500 factories are due to be inspected between February and October 2014. Inspection teams are in the field inspecting around 75 factories per week, and so far more than 550 factories have been inspected for fire and electrical safety and 480 for structural safety.
Safety risks in fire, electrical, and building structural safety have been identified, with many measures - such as reducing weight loads and adhering to load management plans - already being implemented.
Other findings include the need to clean up, organise and maintain practices like properly connecting and sealing electrical wires and keeping wires and circuits free of dust and lint. More substantial measures include installing fire doors, automated smoke detectors and fire alarm systems, establishing fire protected exits from factory buildings, and strengthening of columns in the buildings.
So far the Accord has published 30 fire, electrical and structural inspection reports of 10 factories, including corrective action plans, but it says hundreds of new inspection reports are now being processed.
"Independent, engineering-based inspections of this many factories in this amount of time is unparalleled as is the public disclosure of the reports and corrective active plans of the initial inspections", explains Rob Wayss, executive director Bangladesh operations.
Next on the agenda are plans to make sure corrective safety measures are put in place, and setting up health and safety committees at each factory producing for Accord brands to help drive long-term change.
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