The Bangladesh Accord was created in response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse, when 1,100 garment workers making garments for high street fashion brands including Walmart, Benetton and Primark were killed, and 2,600 injured on 24th April 2013.
The Accord was created to enable a working environment in Bangladesh where 'no worker needs to fear fires, building collapses or other accidents that could be prevented with reasonable health and safety measures’.
It has helped to save thousands of lives, and improved the working conditions for millions in Bangladesh, and this week it was announced that it will be expanded internationally.
Not having to fear fire or building collapse whilst at work would seem like a pretty basic requirement for most of us, however Bangladesh has experienced a series of avoidable tragedies in garment factories. 117 people were killed and hundreds more faced life changing injuries in the Dhaka garment factory fire in 2012. The high death toll was in part due to the lack of emergency exits within the building, and the tragedy was completely avoidable, however the compensation received by injured workers was only 2 years of their annual salary.
In the months prior to the collapse of Rana Plaza a number of factory workers and a film crew had alerted building's owners to their concerns about deep cracks in the building. However on the day Rana Plaza collapsed over 3,000 workers were in the unsafe building sewing garments for high street fashion brands.
What is The Accord?
The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety is a legally binding agreement that holds factories accountable to international labour standards through inspections paid for by the brands, as well as requiring safety training for workers in the factories, an independent workers complaints procedure, transparent reporting of the Accord programmes and accountability by apparel brands and their suppliers.
Since the Accord’s implementation independent inspectors have identified over 144,000 fire safety breaches, electrical and structural hazards across 1,600 garment factories in Bangladesh. More than 90% of these concerns have been remedied. 1.7 million workers have had training on workplace safety, and the Accord has dealt with 359 safety and rights complaints.
Because of the success of the original Bangladesh Accord many experts and the International Labour Organisation are calling for an extension, and for the expansion of the Accord to other countries. Originally the Bangladesh Accord aas set to expire on July 31st leaving many workers in doubt about health and safety in their factories.
On the 25th August 2021, based on the success of the Bangladesh Accord an agreement was made from garment brands and global unions to not only carry on the Accord, but to roll it out internationally. Not only will the Accord be developed into a world leading, industry-wide compliance and accountability system, but the new Accord will bring seismic change to the 430 million people thought to work in the textile and garment industry around the world.