The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
In May 2013 the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was established. The Accord is a binding instrument initiated by Bangladeshi trade unions and Global Union Federations together with labour rights groups. It has been signed by over 150 global fashion brands and retailers, the Bangladesh employers’ organization, Bangladeshi trade unions and Global Union Federations.
Clean Clothes Campaign is one of the four witness signatories. The Accord will be in force for 5 years with the ILO (International Labor Organisation) as neutral chair.
The Accord requires the signatory brands to disclose who their supplier factories are. The Accord also requires independent building inspections on fire, electrical and structural safety, worker rights trainings, and a long-overdue review of safety standards.
Fashion brands, together with their supplier factory, are responsible to compensate the workers during any closure for remediation and maintenance resulting from the inspections. The inspections are carried out by safety inspectors from international firms, and Bangladesh engineers.
The Accord is unique in being supported by all key labour rights stakeholders in Bangladesh and internationally, and being legally binding.
The Accord Safety Inspections
Initial inspections of garment factories were conducted in 2014 through international engineering firms; 38 teams of fire, electrical and structural engineers work with Bangladeshi engineers and technicians in the initial inspection process. The initial inspections in 1500 factories will be completed by the end of August 2014.
The inspection engineers teams are accountable to the Accord as a whole - not to any individual brand or factory. Signatory companies are responsible to work with supplier factories to ensure sufficient funds are available to implement the necessary renovations and other safety improvements as required by the safety inspector, workers regular income and employment relationship are maintained during any period that a factory (or portion of a factory) is closed for renovations, and the right of workers to refuse unsafe work without suffering discrimination or loss of pay, including refusal to enter or to remain inside a building unsafe for occupation.
Ongoing inspections will be carried out by 25 Accord engineers for a period of five years. Worker representatives at the factory level will accompany the inspectors as observers during factory inspection assessments.
In the report three years after Rana Plaza also an assessment of the Accord is included.
The Accord in practice
The reports of the Accord's inspections along with their Corrective Action Plans are published on the Accord website.
Examples of issues identified in inspections
- Need to remove lockable gates on exits and install fire doors, automatic sprinkler system and automatic fire alarm system.
- Need to reduce weight loads in certain areas of the factory through moving material, stock, or supplies.
- Requirement for better support for and enclosure of electrical cables and need to improve maintenance procedures around items such as electrical circuits, for example keeping them free of dust.
Safety Inspection – step by step
- A notice of inspection is issued two weeks prior to the inspection to the factory
- Teams of safety inspectors conduct the inspection
- A report of the inspection, along with a remediation plan where needed, is sent to the factory owner, the signatory brand and worker representatives within two weeks of the inspection
- Owner, brands and worker representatives discuss the report and develop a final remediation plan
- The final remediation plan is reviewed by Accord staff
- The inspection reports and final remediation plan are published on the Accord website within six weeks after the inspection
- Continuous monitoring of the Corrective Action Plans by Accord inspectors
Brand compliance to the Accord
The Accord has an unprecedented level of tranparency, which makes it possible to follow the progress factories are making. In the second half of 2015 the four Accord witness factories decided to use this information to check the progress of H&M's most trusted suppliers. The result was shocking: most supplier factories were far behind schedule in repairing the safety defects that Accord inspectors found. Follow up research in January 2016 and May 2016 showed some progress, but still left the majority of these key suppliers without safe fire exits. To increase pressure on H&M we held an international day of action, on which people in over 40 cities worldwide made their voices heard.
The work of the Clean Clothes Campaign is supported by the European Union under the European Instrument of Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the Clean Clothes Campaign and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.