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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Fashion Safety - Why Won't American Companies Get In Line?

US retailers are continuing to ignore the deadly working conditions in Bangladesh. Fashion Safety was the 1911 catalyst for bringing safer working conditions to Americans and established a legal basis for compensation for occupational injuries outside of the civil justice system.

While the European companies are now joining together, along with economic interests, to establish a program for safer Bangladeshi garment factories following the recent tragedies, major US retailers like Walmart, Target and the Gap are ignoring the effort.

"Labor and consumer groups have pressed Western retailers to join the plan, especially after the factory building collapse and after a fire last November killed 112 workers in a Bangladesh factory. The plan, which many labor unions and nongovernment organizations also have signed, is called the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh."
Click here to read: Clothiers Act To Inspect Bangladeshi Factories (NY Times)

Safety Inspector Sought
Bangladesh Safety Accord Seeks Chief Safety Inspector. The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh garment factories is seeking a chief Safety Inspector to recruit, train, deploy and manage an inspectorate in Bangladesh to protect the safety and health of four million garment workers. The Accord has been signed by more than 50 clothing companies and the Global Unions IndustriALL and UNI. The Safety Inspector will be paid US$200,000 and divide his/her time between Dhaka, Bangladesh and an office in Europe. All interested candidates can obtain the full job description from <> and the application period closes on July 30, 2013.

Text of job announcement:

Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh

Safety Inspector: Terms of Reference / Job Posting


The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (“Accord”) is an historic agreement between the Global Unions IndustriALL, and UNI, and numerous global Brands and Retailers, to improve safety standards in Bangladeshi textile and garment industries. The Accord is governed by a Steering Committee appointed by the signatories.

Terms of Reference

The Safety Inspector, reporting to the Steering Committee, will recruit, train, develop, deploy and supervise an inspectorate capable of evaluating fire and electrical safety, structural safety, and worker safety in Bangladeshi garment factories that supply the Brands. The successful candidate will divide his/her time between Dhaka, Bangladesh and an office to be established in Europe.

The Safety Inspector will coordinate a preliminary classification of factories based on existing and provided information, brief initial inspections where necessary, and take into consideration other recent audits performed by some of the Brands.

S/he will recommend to the Accord Steering Committee fire safety and building safety standards that will be applied by the Accord. Developing these recommendations is anticipated to be an ongoing process that may take a considerable amount of time. These must satisfy, but may go well beyond, existing Bangladeshi regulations and standards.

S/he will recommend to the Steering Committee a methodology for safety inspections and interventions, taking into consideration the successes and failures of previous similar initiatives. This methodology must be able to be set out as guidelines for the inspectorate to be trained on and to follow. Methodologies may be necessary for both quick screening inspections and more in-depth analyses.

The Safety Inspector and the inspectorate must as a group be capable of evaluating:

- structural hazards such as design and material deficiency, insufficient consideration of geological or environmental conditions, overloading, etc.

- fire hazards, including general housekeeping, storage of flammables, dust control, sources of ignition (cutting, welding, open flame, electrical installations, heating systems, boilers etc.), as well as inadequate emergency procedures and escape routes.

- workplace hazards resulting from unsafe materials (including dangerous chemicals), tools, electrical installations, equipment, poor ergonomic design, or a contaminated or overcrowded workplace environment.

- hazards resulting from work organization, such as lack of training, lack of effective workplace health and safety committees, lack of attention to workers' rights (such as the right to refuse unsafe work) and other management policies and practices that would put buildings and the people in them at risk.

The Safety Inspector and the inspectorate as a group will prioritize factories based on the degree of remediation required. Based on the inspection findings, s/he will recommend remedial action for building and fire safety, including worker and management training, fire detection, protection, and firefighting measures, as well as evacuation measures and the need for practice drills. These recommendations will be provided to factory owners, Brands contracting products from the factories and the Steering Committee.

The preceding points are not an exhaustive list. The Safety Inspector will work with the Steering Committee to establish a more complete job description.

Qualifications and Skills Desired

The ideal candidate will be able to apply extensive technical skills with leadership, diplomacy, and courage.


The ideal candidate will have knowledge of most of the safety disciplines described below, but it is understood that the successful person may not have expert-level knowledge in all these areas and should be free to consult other experts where required.

- Bachelor's degree or higher in a related discipline such as civil, structural, or fire engineering

- Thorough knowledge of the building and/or fire safety codes of a high-standard jurisdiction.

- Professional certification or licensing by a major national or international body

- Minimum 10 years of relevant experience


- The skills necessary to establish and lead a group and administer a budget approved by the Steering Committee are essential.

-  Evidence of social and cultural sensitivity; some knowledge of human and labour rights, are important assets.


This is a high-level position. Depending on qualifications and experience, the salary for this position will be in the range of $200,000 USD with a generous benefits package.

How to Apply

Closing date for applications: 30 July, 2013

Contact: Please send a letter of interest and a detailed curriculum vitae with references to:

Interim Secretariat
Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
c/o UNI Global Union
8-10 avenue Reverdil
CH-1260 Nyon