Achievements in factory safety, remediation financing and worker empowerment
noted for Alliance’s second year
Washington, D.C - The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance) today launched its second annual report, detailing progress on factory safety and unveiling findings from a university-conducted impact assessment of its worker safety training program.
In its second year, the Alliance focused intently on factory remediation. As of July, more than 500 factories had their first of two remediation verification visits (RVVs), which give Alliance staff the opportunity to verify factory managers are making progress and ensuring repairs meet Alliance standards. Most factories had completed 21 to 80 percent of repairs by the time of the first RVV, and six factories had passed final inspections. As of July 2015, Alliance Members were sourcing from 662 active factories representing an estimated 1.2 million workers.
“Real, measurable improvements in garment factories are now well underway, with the Alliance and our partners providing the training, financial support and remediation expertise to make a safer Bangladesh garment industry a reality for millions of workers,” said the Honorable Ellen Tauscher, independent chair of the Alliance.
The report also highlighted the Alliance’s work to help ensure funding for factory remediation, including their recently completed agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and a pending partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The IFC agreement makes a total of $50 million in affordable, long-term financing available to factory owners. As a result of the second partnership, USAID will provide $18 million for upgrades to factories that might not be eligible for the IFC program. Both agreements are designed to provide critical financing to speed repairs, and each is the first of its kind executed with an industry coalition.
The report also highlighted significant milestones achieved in the area of worker empowerment. An assessment of the Alliance Basic Fire Safety Training Program, conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, surveyed nearly 4,600 randomly selected workers who had previously received the Alliance training and compared the responses to a baseline survey conducted among workers prior to the training in 2013. A sample of the findings revealed that after the training:
- When asked about what they would do if the fire alarm sounded, 73% of respondents say that they would respond under the assumption that there was a real fire, which is more than double the baseline percentage (34%),
- Nearly all respondents think it is their obligation to report unsafe conditions (90%, up from 67%) and all injuries (82% up from 51%), and
- 84% of workers do not think that fire drills should be skipped during peak season due to busy production schedules (up from 37% in the baseline).
The Alliance also provided an update on training for factory security guards to emphasize the unique role they play in helping evacuate workers in case of an emergency; 13,800 guards had undergone specialized safety training as of July 2015.
“We are proud of our efforts to empower garment factory workers through training and to help them develop lines of communication necessary to build safe and more productive workplaces,” said the former Ambassador James Moriarty, executive director of the Alliance. “In doing so, we are working to set a standard of worker safety and empowerment that we hope the entire Bangladesh garment industry will follow.”
The Alliance report and the training impact assessment can be found at www.bangladeshworkersafety.org.