Bangladesh Accord newsletter for signatories, factories and other parties interested in the Accord’s factory safety programme.
The Accord has contracted international engineering firms Jensen-Hughes, Woosun and Arup to conduct initial inspections at approximately 100 recently listed factories between October and December 2015.
We have conducted over 1,000 first follow-up inspections at the majority of factories and will continue to do follow-up inspections until remediation is completed. The follow up inspections verify remediation of initial inspection findings and, in some cases, identify new findings. The most common new inspection findings are electrical safety issues. These are either new hazards that have arisen since initial inspection or hazards which were not checked in the initial inspection which was of limited time and scope due to the urgency to inspect all factories rapidly. In many cases, the follow up inspection reveals partially completed remediation and the Accord will extend timelines if reasonable justification is given for delays.
The Accord is coordinating with the Alliance to ensure consistent application of the standard requirements at shared factories and recently issued a joint letter to factories explaining the need to allow both initiatives access for follow up inspections to verify remediation.
Overall remediation progress can be seen on the Accord progress page. Halfway through the Accord’s 5 year term, about 50% of the total safety findings in published CAPs are either pending verification or verified by the Accord as fixed. However, the majority of factories are currently behind schedule according to timelines agreed following each factory’s initial inspection. The Accord and signatories are working closely to support these factories in completing outstanding remediation works to ensure worker safety. In order to accelerate remediation the Accord has taken a number of steps including intensive monitoring of factories with slowest remediation and more stringent application of its escalation procedure.
Factories failing to participate in the Accord program will go through an escalation procedure implemented by the Accord and signatory companies. This procedure consists of three stages: (1) A notification of non-compliance from the Accord; (2) Notice and warning from signatory companies and (3) Termination of business by signatory companies. Suppliers whose business with Accord signatory companies has been terminated for reasons of workplace safety are listed here.
The Accord is committed to a high level of transparency and publishes all inspection reports and Corrective Action Plans (CAPs). In addition, the remediation and finance plan status of each factory is now published on the inspection reports page. The remediation status shows if the factory’s CAP is completed, on track or behind schedule. The finance plan status indicates whether the Accord signatory companies and factory have agreed to a finance plan to ensure remediation is financially feasible.
Five Bangladesh partner banks have joined with the International Finance Corporation to provide safety remediation loans since the programme was first announced in July 2015. Contact details for the banks are available in the Signatory Login.
The Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Committee Pilot Programme began in September with 15 factories nominated by Accord signatories. The pilot programme focuses on factories with a registered trade union and active Accord signatory companies. Initial meetings have been held with the factory management, the Accord signatory companies, the trade union federation and the factory level union. In several of these factories the factory management and factory level union have already appointed OSH Committee members and held an all employee meeting facilitated by the Accord to inform all workers of the existence and functions of the OSH Committee.
The Accord has begun a training programme for the workers and managers who serve on these OSH Committees. The training aims to explain the role of the OSH Committee, establish workplace OSH maintenance and monitoring systems, and develop labour-management committee joint problem solving techniques.
On 15th September 2015, the Government of Bangladesh published the Bangladesh Labour Act implementing rules in the Gazette. The Accord Steering Committee is currently reviewing the Accord’s work on OSH Committees in non-unionised factories in line with these implementing rules.
In October, the Accord Steering Committee met with key stakeholders from business, labour, NGOs, investors and governments in New York. A brown bag lunch about Accord progress was hosted by the UN Global Compact for UN agency and mission representatives. A smaller delegation of Steering Committee members together with the Chief Safety Inspector and Executive Director also held meetings in Washington DC with North American industry, labour, US Government, and US Congressional constituents to discuss and provide updates on the work of the Accord.
The next Steering Committee meeting is in January 2016. The minutes from the October meeting are available here.
The report from the September Advisory Board meeting is available here.
The Accord team ran regional meetings throughout September & October to bring signatories together with their peers to share experiences and best practice on Accord implementation. Signatories can view the presentation in the Signatory Login.
Company Caucus: The company signatories will attend a meeting with their Steering Committee representatives on 28-29th January 2016 in Amsterdam.
The Accord and UN Global Compact are co-hosting a webinar: Promoting Safe and Sustainable Supply Chains: Experiences from the Garment Sector in Bangladesh on 15th December 2015 at 9am EDT, 3pm CET, 8pm Dhaka time. Click here for registration.