A “fundamental game change” is needed if repeats of deadly garment factory fires in Pakistan and Bangladesh are to be prevented, according to a new report.

“Fatal Fashion”, compiled by the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), has been released on the eve of a Dutch governmental mission to Bangladesh.

The report follows fires in Karachi in September last year and in Dhaka last November which cost the lives of more than 400 garment workers, leaving many more injured.

Campaigners point to sub-standard buildings, poor emergency procedures, blocked fire exits, overcrowded workplaces and “vastly inadequate” control and auditing practices.

The fires, they warn, are symptomatic of an “ailing” system, reflecting “systemic flaws” on the level of governmental protection of human rights, as well as a “deathly reliance” of international brands on a failed auditing model.

“The report demonstrates that companies and governments knew about the risks, but failed to take sufficient measures to prevent the fires from happening or to address the needs of the victims afterwards,” said Martje Theuws from SOMO.

“Governments and companies should act in accordance with the internationally recognised state duty to protect human rights and the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as laid down in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

Meanwhile, CCC’s Tessel Pauli called for radical change to existing auditing and inspection procedures.

“Instead, buyers should implement a safety programme that includes independent inspections with mandatory reparations, public disclosure of workplace locations and inspection reports, and a central role for workers and unions,” she said.

“In addition, companies should ensure pricing covers the costs of eliminating deathly hazards and operating safely.”