RMG FACTORIES

Quake prompts Alliance to go for fresh inspections

Staff Correspondent
Employees of a garment factory gather in a street at Mohakhali in Dhaka for safety as an earthquake jolted Dhaka for the second day on Sunday. — Ali Hossain Mintu

Employees of a garment factory gather in a street at Mohakhali in Dhaka for safety as an earthquake jolted Dhaka for the second day on Sunday. — Ali Hossain Mintu

The North American brands and retailers’ group has decided to conduct fresh inspections of their listed readymade garment factories to ensure the structural safety of the units after an earthquake and its aftershocks jolted the country on Saturday.
The platform, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, has assembled a team of structural engineers to visit each building where there is a concern.
The Alliance in a news release on Sunday said the earthquake and its aftershocks should be taken as an indication of just how difficult it could be to ensure the structural safety of buildings in an earthquake zone.
Although the Alliance has not seen immediate damage at their listed readymade garment factories in Bangladesh, the initiative think that does not mean that those buildings are structurally sound following the aftershocks.
‘Fresh inspections must now be executed to ensure the structural safety of factories, and we have assembled a team of structural engineers, led by our Chief Safety Officer, to visit each building where there is a concern within the next 48 hours,’ Alliance said.
The retailers’ group expressed its condolences to the victims of earthquake in Nepal where more than 2,000 people died.
‘We extend our deepest condolences to earthquake victims and their families, and we will continue to take all steps possible to ensure that this tragedy does not result in injury or loss of life in Bangladesh garment factories,’ the Alliance said.
Following the earthquake Alliance has received several calls from workers concerned about cracks in factory buildings and the group has taken initiative to ensure that the owners of these factories evacuate workers immediately, if necessary, it said.
‘We are also taking a number of additional measures to work with each factory owner, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Government to ensure that all workers are safe,’ the retailers’ group said.
After the Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garment workers, in April 2013, North American retailers including Walmart and Gap, formed the Alliance undertaking a five-year plan, which set timelines and accountability for inspections and training and workers empowerment programmes.
The Alliance started inspection in the garment factories in February 2014 and completed primary safety assessment of its listed 600 factories in July that year.
The retailers’ group found immediate risk in 19 factories and sought decision from government-established review panel. The panel decided to close five factories fully, 12 partially and allow two to operate with reduced loads.
The Alliance has set a target to complete all remediation requirements and final inspections of its 600 supplier factories in the country by July 2017.

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