On 24 November 2012, a tragic fire took place in a factory named Tazreen Fashions, in Bangladesh killing more than one hundred workers. Our thoughts are with the families of the victims. BSCI has been informed that two other separate fires broke out in other factories in Bangladesh on 26 and 28 November, incurring injuries but fortunately no fatalities. These terrible incidents sadly remind us that health and safety standards continue to remain very poor in Bangladesh. The new BSCI database of audits that was launched in September 2012 provides BSCI and its participants with transparency on the history of the relations with factories and farms.
Thanks to this platform, BSCI is aware that an audit was initiated at the Tazreen Fashions factory ahead of commercial relations with a BSCI participating company in December 2011. The detailed investigation revealed non-compliances amongst which were health and safety issues. Following BSCI rules, the corrective measures were due to be in place in December 2012. However, as no BSCI participating company was and is currently sourcing from this factory, no participant had a relationship that would give the leverage and the responsibility to request improvement measures to be implemented in the factory. The factory is what we called an ‘orphan’, until Wednesday 21 November when another BSCI Participant decided to consider them for future business.
The Tazreen accident, and the two other fires which have followed, highlight more than ever the necessity to continue our actions to increase the safety of workers in Bangladesh. Every factory in the world should be able to ensure the physical security of its workers. BSCI will continue raising the level of awareness on health and safety issues through our training programs for manager of factories and for buyers. BSCI’s most recent workshops in Bangladesh reached out to over 1000 factory staff. BSCI will proceed on this path and evaluate the possibility to embark on locally dedicated educative programs concerning fire security in order to take a hands-on approach and tackle this issue directly. BSCI recognises the co-responsibility of government, trade associations, trade unions and local NGOs who also have to collaborate on this important issue. Through the BSCI Stakeholder Round Tables which regularly take place in Bangladesh, BSCI will address the issue of health and safety at the political level. BSCI believes that progress can be achieved if BSCI companies, government, NGOs, trade unions and all other relevant partners, work together. Improvements take time but we are committed to see progress happen.