Lasting Impact of the Bangladesh Factory Collapse

by / Thursday, 27 June 2013 / Published in iCORE, International RE


According to CNN, the tally stands at 1,127 deaths and 2,438 live rescues. Experts cite extremely poor quality materials and violations of regulation as the cause of the building collapse. Poor working conditions, unsafe construction and unenforced building codes are all too common, and preventable, factors in these deadly events.

So how has one of the biggest industrial tragedies in history impacted labor-globalization and corporate responsibility?

In the past decade, this is the first accident in which a factory owner will face charges in court.  Additionally, the collapse has put increasing pressure on companies to stop turning a blind eye to working conditions in their factories with some reported progress.

Several clothing companies including H&M and Inditex (owns brand Zara) and PVH (owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) have signed onto a plan that to prevent deadly fire and building collapses. The plan requires that companies terminate business with any factory that does not implement the required safety upgrades.

Additionally, the US House of Representatives recently approved an amendment to a defense authorization bill requiring military-branded garments made in Bangladesh and sold at base retail stores, to comply with an enforceable fire and building safety accord aimed at improving conditions in Bangladesh ready-made garment factories.

Despite the recent tragedy, workers in Bangladesh are urging US companies to continue sourcing work to their factories as it provides a vital source of revenue and job opportunities.  The call to action for companies outsourcing their labor is to increase oversight efforts, visibility vigilance and continuous improvement in factory conditions.