To date, some 2,904 RMG factories have been inspected

To date, some 2,904 RMG factories have been inspected

Efforts by the Government of Bangladesh to inspect ready-made garment factories for structural, fire and electrical safety have reached the 1,000 mark.

An update from the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that to date some 2,904 RMG factories have been inspected, of which 1,000 fall under the Government’s National Initiative under the Tripartite Plan of Action, supported by the ILO with backing from Canada, the Netherlands and the UK.

A further 1,904 factories have been inspected by the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. In all, 604 factories from the original list are still to be inspected.

Syed Ahmed, Inspector General of the Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishments, said the Government is making "concerted efforts" to complete as many inspections as possible by the 31 July deadline. After this date, factories will no longer receive inspections for free and will need to meet the costs themselves if they want to continue exporting.

"We shall not compromise on the safety of workers," he said. "The National Initiative is now moving into the factory remediation phase with a pilot programme which sees DIFE inspectors explaining the process of developing Corrective Action Plans to a select number of factories. This will provide useful experience and lessons on the time, skills and resources needed to manage this process before it is fully rolled out to all factories under the National Initiative."

Inspection of all 1,827 factories under the National Initiative has been hampered due to the number of factories having closed, moved or changed contact details, the ILO says.

Efforts, however, are under way to create a comprehensive list of actively exporting RMG factories that will form the basis for future follow-up activities and knowledge management systems. This is being compiled with the help of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and ILO.

Srinivas Reddy, ILO country director for Bangladesh, said the work of the Initiative goes beyond inspections: "The National Initiative has seen an intensive process of cooperation and collaboration on areas such as the harmonisation of inspection standards and reporting. Considerable efforts have also been made to establish management processes within regulators to effectively follow up on inspection reports in a systematic and transparent manner."

The Accord recently issued an update following the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, and admitted it could still take at least another 18 months before corrective action plans are completed for all factories.