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RICS joins mission to help prevent Bangladesh factory tragedies

16 Sep 13 A British team including two RICS representatives flew to Bangladesh this weekend to help address the urgent need for improvements in safety and building standards in the country’s garment sector.

The visit follows the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, Dhaka, in April this year in which over 1,100 garment factory workers lost their lives.

The team of three UK experts - two from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and one from the Better Regulation Delivery Office – are making the visit at the request of the Bangladeshi building regulations agency with the aim of helping tackle weaknesses in the industrial building inspections regime. Target areas include examining building standards legislation so that it can be toughened up to prevent future fatal accidents. The team will also be scrutinising the current inspections regimes for existing and new buildings, including garment factories, to help with moves to strength legislation enforcement. Another focus is to look at how the UK can help to better enforce building standards, including in collaboration with private sector and International Labour Organisation initiatives.

Their subsequent recommendations will help to protect workers by ensuring building standards and safety measures are properly enforced, as well as making it easier for businesses to comply with their legal obligations.

Secretary of state for international development Justine Greening announced said: “The tragic factory collapse in Bangladesh in May was a wake-up call about the appalling conditions that workers in the developing world endure to produce cheap clothes.

“British retailers and industry bodies like the Ethical Trading Initiative are already working with DFID to play their part in improving safety for workers.

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“Now we are sending out three UK experts to share their wealth of experience in safe and effective building regulation to help prevent future tragedies and save lives.”

During his visit to Bangladesh last June, development minister Alan Duncan also announced UK support for skills training for 100,000 low-skilled garment and construction workers, to improve overall productivity and help produce higher-value products.

The experts are part of the Investment Facility for Utilising UK Specialist Expertise (IFUSE), a British government initiative to match demand for private sector support in developing countries with skills from a broad range of UK government departments, agencies and related standards bodies, in the form of short term, targeted deployments.

Their visit is part of a raft of initiatives to help buyers, manufacturers, workers, NGOs and the Bangladeshi authorities work together to agree a set of common compliance standards, bringing accountability to the supply chain, health and safety to workers and robustly enforced construction standards to the buildings in which they work.

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