Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

Bangladesh finds 50 more dangerous factories

Bangladeshi authorities cannot agree on the scale of risk its garment workers face from unsafe factories.

Trade association BGMEA has identified 53 garment factory buildings 'extremely risky' for operation But as other sources claimed the numbers run into hundreds, sources in the country’s Commerce Ministry said the government has conveyed to the BGMEA leaders its estimate of noncompliant factories was 'too low to accept' and undermined the association’s credibility.

Meanwhile, the government earlier gave two weeks to the apparel sector leaders to detect all non-compliant factories and start shutting the unfit ones to avoid any further incidents. And it emerged that investigations to detect and demolish unsafe factories, launched in the wake of the 2005 Spectrum Sweater disaster, had been cancelled for unknown reasons.

The safety problem is not unique to the garment industry. In an announcement on March 15, the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHEF) raised safety concerns throughout the country’s garment, construction, ship-breaking and rice mill industries. It attributed the problems to the near-complete absence of factory inspectors, with just 20 people to police the country’s tens of thousands of operations – which, as one Bangladesh paper observed, means “small plants and non-formal sectors remaining unchecked and unaccounted for.” Japan, by comparison, has 6,000 inspectors and far fewer factories.