Fixing fire safety violations in a factory located in shared facility

Client Problem

 

Rising Sun* is a factory located on 4th, 5th and 6th floors of a high-rise in Gazipur Bangladesh. During an unannounced audit by a UK retailer, the factory was given a grade of ‘critical risk’ for many safety compliance violations, particularly fire safety issues arising from the shared facility usage.

 

 Specifically, the factory was censured for the following areas of non-compliance: 

  1. No centralised, effective Fire Alarm system that can be activated and audible anywhere in the building
  2. Fire equipment was not visible, operable, including water hoses, in the case of a power failure, fire exit gates were locked, staircases were blocked or obstructed, no fire doors were available and the fire marshals were inadequately trained.
  3. In the same building there were four other factories with Bangladeshi, Chinese, and Korean owners respectively.  They had different weekly holidays, which meant that any attempt to coordinate joint fire drills for all five factories was very complicated.

 

As a result of the ‘critical risk’ status, the UK retailer froze a £2m order that was placed in the factory through one of their suppliers. The supplier urgently contacted GreenGrade as it was not able to place any further production in this factory, which was their main garment manufacturer in Bangladesh.

 

What We Did

On behalf of that Supplier that sourced from Rising Sun, GreenGrade carried out a remediation program to address the critical health and safety issues. The accelerated remediation program was implemented over two months. 

GreenGrade’s Dhaka staff visited the factory between two to three times each week, and the London office issued twice weekly progress updates to the retailer noting the state of the repairs. We also added new findings or violations that were noticed by the GreenGrade staff during their site visits. This was done with the knowledge and blessing of both the supplier and the factory, as they wanted to rebuild their credibility with the retailer.

We further coordinated a joint fire drill and oversaw the purchase process of the necessary fire safety equipment. Additionally there were infrastructure changes needed, and these were carried out at the factory during off-production hours. For example, the factory installed washing basins near the main staircase, causing constant flooding and thus GreenGrade relocated the washing basins and installed bottled water fountain points nearby.

 

What We Achieved

Within this tight timeframe GreenGrade was able to work closely with the factory management, increasing their knowledge of the latest ethical compliance and factory safety compliance requirements. This laid the foundation for more effective management system improvements, ensuring the sustainability of the remediation.

With GreenGrade’s guidance, Rising Sun was reinstated to a ‘low risk’ category following an unannounced visit by the retailer’s ethical team, that has taken place at the factory at the end of the remediation project. This ensured the factory was approved to proceed with production. The retailer continued to carry out unannounced visits in the months following the completion of the project and found that the corrective actions implemented were sustained as required. The factory has remained in the low-risk category ever since.

*= name changed to protect their identity.