Bangladesh forms committee to ensure factory safety inspections after deadly fire

The government has moved to ensure safe workplace environment at industrial and commercial units with instructions to take steps for a swift inspection of all plants in the wake of the deadly fire at a factory.

The Prime Minister’s Office announced a 24-strong committee headed by Sheikh Hasina’s Advisor for Private Industry and Investment Salman F Rahman on Thursday to prevent industrial accidents.

In another notice, the PMO ordered the relevant authorities to begin inspecting the plants immediately. Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, or BIDA, will lead the initiative in coordination with business associations FBCCI, BGMEA and government agencies.

Factory safety in Bangladesh recently came to the spotlight after the death of at least 50 workers in a fire at Hashem Foods plant in Narayanganj on Jul 8, another industrial disaster in the country.

Officials said the factory lacked a fire safety system and proper exits. The Sajeeb Group unit also used child labour. 

Last month, at least 12 people died in a blast that caused the partial collapse of a building, which housed food stores and electronics showroom, in the busy Moghbazar area of Dhaka following gas build-up from an unknown source.  

The committee announced on Thursday will take measures upon reviewing recommendations of expert panels formed after similar accidents in the past.

It will monitor the activities of the agencies related to factory safety, take action by reviewing laws or rules on industrial structures and monitor the work to follow these laws and rules.

The new committee will also work to ensure training of workers and members of factory management to prevent fire and other accidents, and make recommendations to the government.

The members of the committee include Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, several state ministers, secretaries, MPs and mayors, BIDA executive chairman, the inspector general of police, the director general of Fire Service and Civil Defence, the inspector general of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, and the chiefs of FBCCI and BGMEA.