What will it take in Bangladesh?

Nine more garment factory workers died in a recent fire in Bangladesh, reminding us that conditions in the industry are still challenging. According to some reports, the factory may be associated with several major retailers.
Two different clothing industry alliances have formed to address the safety of Bangladesh garment factories. This tragedy underscores the urgency of the situation. If retail companies are hoping they can regain consumer confidence by simply announcing a program, with only weak commitments for implementation, they could be badly mistaken. It’s way to soon to expect any results from the alliances’ efforts, but the clock is ticking.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting to see that some organizations are proposing to collect information directly from workers as a way of monitoring compliance to safety rules. The Guardian.com posted a report on those approaches. If reliable information direct from the factory floor becomes available, it would be a powerful tool to ensure compliance to safety and other work-related standards. The challenge there will be generating information that is, in fact, reliable and relevant. We use online survey tools in our consulting and professional development practice, and it takes careful thought and significant effort to design and implement those tools. It’s not a simple solution, but certainly an approach worth watching.


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