Ten reports of inspections made in Bangladeshi apparel factories were made available to the public today. The reports give details of the first of around 1,500 inspections that will be made in factories around Bangladesh by the end of August, as part of a safety agreement made in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in April 2013.
This groundbreaking wave of inspections is being carried out by the Bangladesh Accord Foundation. The foundation is made up of more than 150 clothing companies from 20 countries, including household brands such as Adidas, H&M and American Eagle Outfitters. In reaction to Rana Plaza, and a series of other highly publicized incidents in Bangladesh’s massive apparel manufacturing industry, these international brands committed to more rigorous and transparent safety protocols. These inspections mark the first real follow-through from the formation of the Bangladesh Accord Foundation.
These first ten pilot inspections give a good indication of what can be expected from the many factory visits to come. Among their findings are some serious safety concerns. Some of the factories were found to have inadequate fire safety measures and dangerously high weight loads on floors, as well as various other safety issues.
However, the overall connotation of the reports is positive. It is no surprise that there are safety violations in the factories. The fact that these issues are now being revealed should be viewed as progress. Furthermore, the unusually high level of detail in the reports shows that the companies involved are serious about increased transparency. Jyrki Raina, who represents the IndustriALL Global Union and played a major role in the formation of the accord stated that “the inspection reports contain an unprecedented level of detail and set a new standard in transparency and credibility”.
If this level of depth is maintained throughout the following 1,500 inspections, there is little doubt that areas in need of improvement will be successfully highlighted. Of course, then, the more important job of making tangible changes must be undertaken.