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Bangla factory fire highlights need for safety
06
Feb '16
A fire at a garment factory with incomplete safety measures in Gazipur in Bangladesh has underlined that the country is still some distance away from complete workplace safety.

The fire broke out early morning on February 2 in the Matrix Sweater Ltd. factory in Gazipur, which sources garments for members of both the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord).

Both the Alliance and the Accord said that while there were no casualties and only minor injuries in the fire, this incident underscores the importance of their ongoing work to remediate factories to meet international safety standards, and to push factories that are moving slowly to accelerate their remediation progress.

The Alliance conducted the first inspection of the Matrix Sweater factory in 2014 and recommended several essential safety improvements. In June 2015, a remediation verification visit indicated that Matrix had completed 25 per cent of its required repairs, with an additional 62 per cent of repairs in progress. Yet to be completed was the installation of fire doors, automatic sprinklers and fire detection systems, which allowed the fire to spread. The Alliance is currently conducting a follow-up inspection to gauge additional progress.

The Accord conducted a follow-up inspection to monitor and verify remediation in October 2015. At that time, approximately 35 per cent of the total required safety remediation had been corrected. Completed remediation items included corrections to electrical distribution boards and progress on required electrical grounding. Fire doors had been delivered but not yet installed. The Accord case handler assigned to MSL had contact with the factory management on January 30, 2016 and received commitments that the factory would provide an update to the Accord within a few days on additional remediation items that had been corrected since October 2015.

Both the Alliance and the Accord said fire at MSL highlights the importance of completing all required corrective actions from inspections.

The Alliance said that while there has ben a dramatic decline in serious fire incidents since the launch of international safety initiatives, there remain hazards still to be addressed under the remediation programme.

The Alliance said these hazards are further complicated by infrastructure issues in Bangladesh, such as a lack of access to water supply and overcrowding of buildings, which complicate efforts to extinguish fires when they occur—further underscoring the need for its work. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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