On April 24, 2013, a garment factory complex called Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh, killing 1,134 workers, mostly young women, and injuring more than 2,500 others. The worst factory accident in the history of the garment industry, the tragedy captured international headlines and renewed concerns for worker safety in the global supply chain. What has changed during the five years since?
In a new report, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights finds that many garment factories are safer. Initiatives sponsored by Western apparel brands and retailers have made a difference in about 2,300 factories employing some two million workers.
But there is still much more to be done. While better financed factories with connections to Western brands are improving, thousands of others are left out because they can’t afford remediation or aren’t overseen by any compliance authority.
Our report charts a way forward – a Bangladeshi-led international task force focused on “shared responsibility” for factory safety. With funding from the brands and retailers that profit from Bangladeshi apparel, governments whose citizens purchase inexpensive clothing made in the country, international financial institutions, and the philanthropic community, the task force can start to make all factories safer.
For the full report, click here.
Bangladesh Factory Safety by the Numbers
Based on data compiled by the Center and available here.
Foreword, Executive Summary and Findings
Main takeaways from our research
Part One: Introduction
How Bangladesh became the source for “fast fashion” and the effect this had on worker safety
Part Two: Accord and Alliance
How two foreign-sponsored initiatives hastened a wave of factory remediation after Rana Plaza
Part Three: Gaps in Governance Action
Efforts by the Bangladesh government and why they should do more
Part Four: Shared Responsibility and the Way Forward
Who should take responsibility for making factories safe and secure
Part Five: Recommendations
Ideas for charting an effective, productive path forward
About the Authors
Paul M. Barrett, deputy director of the Center, spent 32 years working as a journalist and has written four non-fiction books.
Dorothée Baumann-Pauly, research director of the Center, co-authored the Center's previous two reports on human rights in Bangladesh's garment sector.
April Gu, the associate director of the Center, is a graduate of the Stern School of Business and the NYU School of Law.
For more information about the authors, please click here.