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Progress needed on fire safety in garment units: Report
Dec '14
A latest report from Better Work Vietnam reveals that fire safety initiatives in garment factories in the Southern region of Vietnam are yet to meet national and global standards, despite certain progress.

Major garment factories in the South Vietnam have shown some improvements in fire safety, but non-compliance with national and international standards in this area remains persistently high, the latest report by Better Work Vietnam informs.

Better Work Vietnam is a partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The body aims to improve working conditions and promote competitiveness in Vietnam’s apparel and footwear industries through combined assessment, advisory and training services.

“Fires can cause great damage to business, not to mention human lives, so this is why we are committed to work with them to make improvements,” said Better Work Vietnam manager, Nguyen Hong Ha.

The annual thematic report, which covers 60 factories that have undergone four annual assessments, shows major improvements in the area of chemical and hazardous substance storage.

“Non-compliance rates in this area have fallen by almost two thirds between the first assessment in 2011 and the fourth one in 2014,” it states.

However, the report reveals that fifty percent of the observed factories did not ensure the accessibility of fire exits.

The exits were found to be blocked or locked during working hours, which represents static progress since the second assessment period in 2012 and a deterioration since the first assessment in 2011.

According to Better Work, many of the problems in this area stem from stock being placed in a disorderly manner around the factory floor, thus obstructing emergency exits.

“Fixing this problem is relatively simple and straightforward once found but many factories lack a systematic approach to prevent it from reoccurring in the future,” Better Work Vietnam said.

In addition, more than a third of the factories were found to be lacking clearly marked exits and escape routes in both, visit three and visit four.

“More than 30 per cent did not maintain electrical wiring, and more than a quarter still lack adequate fire-fighting equipment, all over the same period,” the report added.

Other commonly observed non-compliance issues concern fire detection systems, firefighting training for workers and inspection and maintenance of machines, equipment, buildings and stores.

Ha observed, “While progress has been made in some areas, in others there is a clear need for factories to show greater leadership in identifying risks and taking proactive preventative measures to prevent fires."

He added, “It is important to make this key industry a safe place for its workers and a low risk industry for international investment and requires continued efforts from Government, employers and workforce.”

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