Improving Fire & General Building Safety for Bangladesh's Ready-Made Garment Sector
Bangladesh’s economic development depends heavily on exports from the ready-made garment (RMG) sector, with its extensive labor rights violations, including unsafe fire and building safety practices. These violations have caused numerous worker casualties, most notably from the Tazreen factory fire and the Rana plaza building collapse. Reports have shown that sub-standard buildings, poor emergency procedures, blocked fire exits, overcrowded workplaces, and inadequate inspection practices have resulted in a high death toll. A contributing problem has been the lack government capacity to educate and enforce appropriate fire and building safety standards.
An overarching objective is to improve the Government of Bangladesh’s enforcement of fire and general building safety laws and regulations in the RMG sector consistent with international labor and fire standards and best practices. Immediate objectives include improvements in:
- Government policies and plans, in line with but not limited to the current National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety for the Ready-Made Garment Sector in Bangladesh and related initiatives.
- Government capacity to efficiently and effectively inspect and ensure timely remediation of fire and general building hazards and protection against employer retaliation for reporting hazards.
- Government education and outreach to employers and workers on fire and general building safety with improved social dialogue on fire and general building safety among tripartite partners (government, worker organizations, employer organizations).
Improving government’s ability to develop, educate on and enforce fire and general building safety standards will improve compliance with fire and building safety standards and thereby reduce relate damage and casualties and improve assistance provided to workers injured or killed and their families.
The Ministry of Labor and Employment and other key ministries and offices, such as the Cabinet Committee for the RMG sector, the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Office of Civil Defense, the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, and other relevant government bodies.