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Workplace Health and Safety

Photo of workers hand protected by metal glove. Photo by ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Photo by ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Despite the existence of national and international laws that protect workers’ right to safe and healthy working environments, factory conditions remain unsafe across the garment industry. Some factories lack proper safety equipment for workers or expose them to hazardous chemicals. Others have unsafe electrical wiring, which increases the risk of fire—a danger often compounded by a lack adequate alarm systems and escape routes. And some factories, particularly in Bangladesh and across South Asia, are structurally unsound, which increases the risk of a building collapse like the one at Rana Plaza in 2013, which killed 1,137 workers.

Ensuring that factories have safe working conditions has always been part of the WRC’s investigative process. The WRC investigates worker reports of safety violations, from overheated factory floors to a lack of sprinkler systems, and presses brands and factory owners to ensure these violations are corrected.

The Bangladesh Accord

The WRC had been urging multinational apparel brands to improve health and safety in Bangladesh garment factories for years when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013. Following that tragedy, the WRC helped lead the creation of The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the first modern legally-binding commitment that requires brands to allow independent inspections of their supplier factories and to pay for crucial safety repairs. Over 2.5 million workers in 1,600 factories are covered by the Accord.

Thanks to the Accord, more than 100,000 safety repairs have been made at hundreds of factories across Bangladesh—and at least 50 extremely unsafe factories were evacuated, any one of which could have been the next Rana Plaza.

The WRC continues to provide strategic and logistical support in implementing and enforcing the Accord through our role as a witness signatory on the Accord Steering Committee, and through support to our labor and NGO allies.

Related Factory Investigations

Far East Garment Textile

The assessment was initiated in response to multiple complaints made by employees of these facilities, primarily concerning the areas of freedom of association and occupational health and safety.

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First Apparel

The assessment was initiated in response to multiple complaints made by employees of these facilities, primarily concerning the areas of freedom of association and occupational health and safety.

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PT Dae Joo Leports

The International Labor Organization (ILO), in a 1998 publication, noted that “hours of work, overtime and wages, occupational health and safety, leave, provision of food and transport, social security and the special needs of women workers,” in addition to inadequate access to health care and restricted associational rights, are problems characteristic of export processing zones. In Indonesia’s export processing zones, and in the KBN’s North Jakarta branches in particular, some of these problems are starkly visible.

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PT Kolon Langgeng

In November 2002, the WRC received a complaint from workers at PT Kolon Langgeng, including allegations that, if valid, would constitute violations of Indonesian law and of college and university codes of conduct primarily in the realm of wages and benefits, forced and uncompensated overtime, and occupational health and safety.

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New Era Cap Company

The complaint alleged that New Era failed to comply with WRC and university Codes of Conduct, and with applicable labor and employment laws, in three general areas: health and safety, age and disability discrimination, and freedom of association and collective bargaining.

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PT Dada

Violations found include punishing sick leave, danger of severe heat stress, requiring homework, and freedom of association violations.

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