All factories producing for H&M should be safe and all workers should feel safe at their everyday workplace. These are key concerns for H&M. We have always seen it as our responsibility to actively contribute to safe workplaces in the textile industry.
In general, there is a need of improving fire and safety in Bangladesh – a country where poor electrical installations and bad maintenance is common. As a consequence, the textile industry in Bangladesh is today experiencing a substantial transformation when it comes to fire safety and is now converting into Western safety standards. This is a huge and complex work, but extremely important. It requires specialist knowledge, availability of international safety equipment and the necessary technical know-how. It is of utmost importance that all measures taken are according to the quality standards agreed in the industry.
Our signing of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was a complement to the work we started several years ago, and a great way forward as we want to involve a wide range of actors pushing for change in the entire textile industry in Bangladesh, not only the factories producing for H&M. With this commitment, we are able – together with other companies, global trade unions, employers’ organizations and the Bangladeshi government – to actively influence and contribute to improved workplace safety in the textile industry. Across this grouping, we are working jointly to improve the situation of around 1,600 factories in Bangladesh of which around 250 produce for H&M. We have a staff of almost 600 in Bangladesh, who works to support suppliers, including improving production facilities to safer and higher international standards. All factories we work with are approved for operation by the Accord.
As part of the transformation to updated international standards, all of the supplier factories that we work with in Bangladesh underwent additional safety inspections by the Accord during 2014–2015. The remediation process was initially delayed, partly due to import delays of upgraded safety equipment as well as a shortage of technical expertise needed to conduct detailed engineering assessments, planning and submissions of drawings, and installation of technical equipment. However, now the remediation is showing progress. To further speed up the remediation we are working closely with IndustriALL to use our combined leverage where needed. We are also in close contact with the suppliers to support them and follow up on the work that remains to be done.
Click here to see data on findings included in the Accord inspections.