The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

Developing and project managing capacity building, inspections, remediation and support of 850 factories in Bangladesh, including training program for over 1 million workers.

Executive summary

The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety was founded by a group of North American apparel companies and retailers and brands following the Rana Plaza building collapse that tragically claimed the lives of 1,134 workers and left thousands injured. 

The apparel companies and retailers and brands have joined together to develop and launch the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, a binding, five-year undertaking that will be transparent, results-oriented, measurable and verifiable with the intent of improving safety in Bangladeshi ready-made garment (RMG) factories. Collectively, these Alliance members represent the overwhelming majority of North American imports of RMG from Bangladesh, produced at more than 500 factories. 

The Alliance aims to achieve the goal of a safety RMG industry in Bangladesh by focusing efforts on five strategic pillars: 

  • Standards and inspections
  • Remediation
  • Worker Empowerment
  • Training
  • Sustainability

Scope of services

ELEVATE was selected as the management firm responsible for developing the local operation and managing the inspections, remediation and support of 850 factories in Bangladesh during a five-year program starting in October 2013 and concluding in July 2018. 

The scope of services also covered training programs, creating a helpline, conducting impact worker surveys, and organizing and hosting the annual Fire & Building Safety Expo in Bangladesh with over 5,000 attendees. 

Challenges

Building failures and fires are severe risks to those who source from developing countries—these countries often cut corners on proper factory inspections and follow-up. Factories that exhaust their resources on meeting production demands may neglect safety risks such as structural damages or overburdened electrical circuits.

In Bangladesh, there has been a need for engagement to influence better safety practices. By spreading awareness to factories and workers, and informing them of potential risks that can potentially harm their business, the Alliance has been able to bring about meaningful change. 

The process of helping factories achieve substantial completion of their Corrective Action Plans cannot be accomplished during a short period of time, but positive change in the RMG sector is occurring. 

Program impact

As the project manager, ELEVATE built a team of 65 dedicated staff (62 in Dhaka) to manage, carry out inspections and plan remediation for 850 factories. By mid-2017, 726 factory inspections had been carried out.

The impact the project has had includes:

  • Developing and implementing training program for 1.2 million workers and 19,000 security guards on fire and building safety issues
  • Creating a helpline with Laborlink that tracks and manages more than 30,000 calls annually
  • Conducting impact worker surveys for over 3,000 workers in 30 local factories
  • Organizing and hosting Annual Fire & Building Safety Expo in Bangladesh with over 5,000 attendees