Horrific fire at clothing factory in Bangladesh

In November a fire consumed a clothing factory in Bangladesh with more than 100 deaths. It appears the doors were locked and there were no emergency exits. This is all too reminiscent of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire that occurred in the US in 1911, when 146 workers died. The Bangladesh factory supplied clothing to many retailers including Wal-Mart via a supplier’s subcontract. Harold Myerson, writing in the Washington Post, alleges that Wal-Mart’s “demand for low prices” prompts suppliers “to cut corners and skimp on safety.” Editor (Junaid Bhatti): These incidents are not uncommon. On Sep 11, 2012, a fire in a similar factory under similar circumstances in Karachi, Pakistan trapped and killed nearly 300 people. Corporate social responsibility, including occupational safety and health, is now considered by several major businesses around the world especially when outsourcing is involved. It is encouraging to see that international standards (such as Occupational Health and Safety Management System OHSAS-18001) have been developed to ensure workers’ safety during sub-contracting. I agree with those who have argued that implementation of these standards by businesses not only makes them sustainable but also improves their image locally and internationally. In my opinion wider implementation of these standards is currently lacking. If these practices improved it would be a win-win situation: it would likely benefit major international corporations by improving their brand image and it would improve the safety of their workers. As well, this would prompt improved safety in local industry in developing countries where profit margins for exports are often higher. I think that local industry would not hesitate to make some conditional investments in the safety of their workers if these initiatives gave them an opportunity to grow with major international corporations.

 

(Visited 26 times, 1 visits today)