German retailer Tchibo has become the second company to commit to a programme that aims to improve fire and building safety in the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry.

It follows PVH, owner of the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, which committed to the initiative in March.

Tchibo plans to establish independent building inspections, worker rights training, public disclosure and a review of safety standards as part of the programme, which is supported by the IndustriALL Global Union, the Clean Clothes Campaign, the International Labor Rights Forum, the Worker Rights Consortium and Maquila Solidarity Network, together with Bangladeshi trade unions and labour rights groups.

Since 2006, more than 600 garment workers have died in Bangladesh due to unsafe buildings - and the industry hit the headlines again last week after more than 300 clothing and footwear workers died in two factory fires in Pakistan.

Tchibo, which operates around 1,100 shops in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, as well as a mail order business, sells a range of products including clothing and footwear.

 "We take fire risks very seriously and see the need to join forces at a multi-stakeholder level in order to achieve a sector-wide change in Bangladesh," the retailer says.

"We believe this programme has the potential to make a real difference and to be a benchmark for other Asian sourcing countries."