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August 18, 2022

Bangladesh workplace safety initiative to focus on leather and RMG sectors

Bangladesh’s domestic garment sector and leather export sector are to benefit from enhanced workplace safety thanks to a new agreement signed this week.

By Michelle Russell

The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI)  signed the agreement in Bangladesh yesterday (17 August) to enhance workplace heath and safety in ten priority economic sectors including leather and the domestic ready-made-garment industry.

Under the agreement, a number of capacity building and promotional activities will be carried out to strengthen workplace safety and health at institutional as well as enterprise levels. These activities will be supported by ILO’s RMG programme  funded by Canada and the Netherlands.

Through the initiative, 15 safety units will be established to build safety culture in ten industries, namely electronic & electrical, chemical, plastic, light engineering, leather, food processing, furniture, printing and packaging, domestic RMG and steel re-rolling.

Simultaneously, 2400 safety representatives and 100 safety committees will be developed to improve awareness and capacity on workplace safety and health among employers and workers.

Speaking on the occasion, country director of ILO Bangladesh, Tuomo Poutiainen said, “ILO is pleased to join forces with FBCCI to promote safety culture and practices in priority industries. We hope that our collective efforts will help prevent many occupational accidents, injuries and diseases and save countless lives.”

All Bangladeshi enterprises with 50 or more employees have a legal binding to establish ‘safety committees’ comprising of an equal number of worker and employer representatives. The ILO-FBCCI initiative will develop the capacity of 900 safety committee members on fire safety and occupational safety and health (OSH) so they can better monitor, address and communicate on safety issues at their respective workplaces.

“Ensuring the safety of workers is our utmost priority. We have teamed up with the ILO to invest in strong and functional safety units, safety committees and safety representatives. Strengthening workplace safety and health at institutional and enterprise levels will make our factories more safe and productive which will benefit the national economy,” said Md. Jashim Uddin, president of FBCCI.

In May this year, the ILO RMG programme organised the first Industrial Safety Forum (ISF)  in Dhaka to discuss, engage and collaborate on improving workplace safety and health in all economic sectors across Bangladesh. The programme is collaborating with the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) to upskill 1000 RMG safety committees  on occupational safety and health (OSH), fire safety and Covid-19 guidelines. SH), fire safety and COVID-19 guidelines.

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