Groups working to improve safety in Bangladesh's garment factories are moving towards a common set of inspection standards, with just a "few final modifications" remaining.

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which represents North American brands and retailers, today (20 November) said a meeting earlier this month set out the minimum criteria for fire and building safety.  

Last month the Alliance approved the draft standards against which its members' facilities will be assessed, and established a committee of third-party experts to help with implementation.

It said these set the foundation for the plans agreed with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, and the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).

The standards also align with the Bangladesh National Building Code and support the National Tripartite Plan of Action.

"The challenges in Bangladesh are many and complex, and the solution requires collaboration across all interested parties," said Jeffrey Krilla, Alliance president. 

The Alliance said it is currently conducting an independent analysis of inspections carried out on factories used by its member companies, adding that details of another 66 factories have been added to its publicly-released supplier database.

This brings the total to 686 Alliance member factories - around half of which overlap with those used by the largely-European members of the Accord.

New companies who have joined the Alliance in the past month include Australia's The Just Group, Giant Tiger Stores Limited and YM Inc of Canada - taking the membership to 26 companies.

The group said it has also hired Mesbah Rabin as its managing director in Bangladesh, and expects to officially open its Dhaka office in December.