ILO and BGMEA have partnered in a move aimed at further strengthening garment worker safety in Bangladesh.

An implementation agreement was signed between ILO and BGMEA yesterday (23 January) to strengthen the capacity of Safety Committees.

The labour law in Bangladesh makes it mandatory for all organisations with 50 or more employees to establish Safety Committees comprising of an equal number of representatives from workers and employers. Safety Committees are tasked to implement, monitor and communicate on safety issues at workplaces.

Under the deals inked with BGMEA, 700 Safety Committee members from 75 garment factories will be trained on occupational safety and health (OSH), hazard identification and risk assessment, building safety culture, management of fire accidents and Covid-19 guidelines.

The idea is that these Safety Committee members will be up-skilled in worker safety and will then help to spread awareness among roughly 50,000 workers in their respective factories.

BGMEA president Faruque Hassan met with George Faller, chief technical advisor of ILO’s Improving Working Conditions in the RMG Sector Programme, alongside BGMEA vice president Md Nasir Uddin and senior officials from ILO Bangladesh at the signing ceremony.

“Safety Committees bring together management and workers to help create and maintain safe and healthy working environment,” Faller said. “These committees will prevent many workplace accidents and diseases once they are equipped with proper skills and tools, and allowed to function as per the law.”

Hassan added: “The safety of our workers is our priority. Hence, we joined hands with the ILO to invest in strong and functional safety committees which will help our industry to overcome the safety and health crisis posed by the pandemic and mitigate other occupational risks.

Last week, the BGMEA met with the Ambassador of South Korea to Bangladesh to discuss the possible benefits of expanding apparel trade between the two countries.

BGMEA said discussions took place about possible areas of expanding trade between Bangladesh and South Korea and how both countries can collaborate in a meaningful way to pave the way for boosting bilateral trade.