International Safety Accord / Bangladesh
A New Model: The Accord
When Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013, the WRC had already been working for years to press apparel brands to fundamentally change their approach to fire and building safety in Bangladesh in order to bring about genuine safety improvements in their supplier factories there. The international attention following the catastrophe forced brands back to the bargaining table, and the WRC and our allies successfully convinced them to sign the historic Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The Accord is the first modern legally-binding agreement between workers, factory managers, and apparel companies that requires brands and retailers to:
- Open their supplier factories to fully independent inspections by qualified experts and engineers
- Allow the results of these inspections to be reported publicly, in a searchable database
- Help pay for essential safety renovations
- Stop doing business with any factories that fail to make needed safety repairs
Additionally, the Accord outlines a complaint mechanism by which workers can anonymously report potential violations at their factory to the Accord. It also includes an enforcement mechanism by which legal action can be brought against non-compliant signatories.
The Accord represents a fundamental shift in how safety violations are addressed at garment factories. Previous corporate-led programs were voluntary and lacked both enforcement mechanisms and transparency. Under the Accord, brands and retailers are legally responsible for ensuring the workers who make their clothes work in safe conditions.
In September 2022 the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry went into effect as the successor agreement to the Bangladesh Accord, with the Ready-Made-Garment Sustainability Council (RSC) continuing to serve (since June 2020) as the implementing agent of the Accord’s prescribed safety programs in Bangladesh. The International Accord maintains the vital elements of the ground-breaking model established by the Bangladesh Accord: legal enforceability of brands’ commitments, independent oversight of brand compliance, the obligation to pay prices to suppliers sufficient to support safe workplaces, and the obligation to cease doing business with any factory that refuses to operate safely. 198 apparel companies have signed the International Accord. This model, which has saved countless lives in Bangladesh, has now been expanded to Pakistan. Read more here.