Adding value to workplace safety in Bangladesh’s garment sector
Better Work Bangladesh is creating lasting, positive changes in working conditions and factory performance in Bangladesh’s garment industry.
Dhaka-April 28, 2019
The future of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in Bangladesh’s garment industry
Progress on OSH under the Accord and Alliance calls for a sustainability agenda to ensure continuous improvement of safety in the garment sector. By supporting factories to integrate strong, proactive management systems, factories go beyond minimum standards. Better Work Bangladesh helps them to get to the root cause of issues, developing policies and procedures to systematically address and prevent OSH hazards.
Better Work Bangladesh promotes safety and health at work
The scope of the Better Work programme includes but is not limited to factory safety, since it looks at the whole spectrum of social compliance in application of international labour standards and national legislation. Better Work Bangladesh currently works in 210 factories, with the objective of reaching 400 factories by 2021, and attain a critical mass of partners so responsible practices become the de facto business culture. Since the launch of Better Work Bangladesh in 2014, participating in our programme has enabled factories to steadily improve their compliance with international workplace safety standards and national legislation.
Like many other garment producing countries, OSH is the single biggest area of non-compliance in factories in Bangladesh. Through assessment, advisory and training, we support factories to verify documents and licenses, and detect potential or where necessary obvious risks related to fire and electrical safety. Guided by our Global Strategy on Building, Fire and Electricity Safety, we address workplace safety and health issues from multiple angles:
Assessment–Unannounced assessments verify compliance with international standards and national labour law covering OSH in several categories: Emergency Preparedness, Health Services and First Aid, Welfare Facilities, Working Environment, Worker Protection, Chemicals and Hazardous Material, and OSH Management Systems.
Advisory–Advisory visits (up to eight per year) establish bipartite worker-manager committees in factories. These committees use compliance assessment results as the basis for creating dialogue to address the interest of both workers and management in the factory, including how to address issues of workplace safety and health.
Training–Training courses catered for the factory’s specific needs focus on a systems approach to creating an OSH policy, role of the Safety Committee, and OSH issues in the workplace. Industry seminars are organised with peers from other factories to share good practices.
Better Work Bangladesh is working with the Ministry of Labour (MOLE) to adopt its Zero Tolerance Protocol (ZTP) in Bangladesh to notify buyers and regulatory bodies about critical issues posing an immediate threat to workers’ welfare and safety and keep them updated on remediation efforts.
Better Work Bangladesh increasingly seeks to reinforce partnerships with the Government and Social Partners to leverage greater collaboration to improve OSH performance, enforcement of embedded OSH regulations in the garment industry, and build capacity to oversee industrial safety in Bangladesh.