Labour rights groups are urging an overhaul of the approach to inspection reports on factory safety and working conditions, arguing that industry certificates are "more for show than safety."

The calls accompany a joint complaint to the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) – an initiative that helps retailers, importers and brands to improve working conditions in supplier factories worldwide – requesting it to disclose the audit contract and resulting reports on the Phantom Apparel factory based at the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh.

The move comes more than two years after a BSCI member appointed German technical inspection company TÜV Rheinland to audit the production facilities, a few months before the building collapsed killing more than 1,130 people.

Yet according to the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Femnet and the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), Medico International and the Activist Anthropologist Collective from Bangladesh: "The German certification company failed to address building safety and construction flaws and a number of other problems were not raised in its report."

"The certificates don't tell us much. Consumers need to know exactly what is monitored," says Miriam Saage-Maaß, head of the business and human rights programme at ECCHR. "But above all, we need to be able to hold the certification companies and the bodies that commission them liable for their actions."

Gisela Burkhardt, chairperson of Femnet, a member of CCC, adds: "When disasters happen in the textile industry, producers, buyers and traders like to hide behind certificates of safety and working standards to dodge responsibility."

Thomas Seibert, South Asia coordinator for Medico International, adds: "If the inspections are inadequate then the certificates are not worth the paper they're written on."

The BSCI has confirmed to just-style that it has received the document and is currently in the process of reviewing it. It adds: "The Business Social Compliance Initiative is committed to working in partnership to achieve sustainable labour improvements in Bangladesh and considers the engagement with stakeholders, such as the organisations signing this complaint, of importance."