With approximately 1127 dead after the Rana Plaza collapsed citizens of Bangladesh are outraged. Nearly 3000 workers were trapped when the building began to crumble on April 24th at 8:45am. The Plaza was occupied with an outsourced manufacturing factory of clothes as well as shops and a major bank for the Dhaka region. The shops and the bank however were not victims of this catastrophe. After inspection of the building there were cracks found in structure and the shops were shut down and removed form the site. The victims of the collapse were the garment factory workers who were not notified of the plaza’s faults. The managers of the factory as well as the proprietor of the Rana Plaza, Sohel Rana, allegedly insisted that the factory remain open for business on April 24th.
Negligence and corruption
After the arrest and apprehension of Mr.Rana, he stated in a previous report that it was the factory owners who in fact wished for business to continue on the 24th of April. Along with Mr.Rana several of the factory owners were arrested for reckless endangerment among other felonies. The Rana Plaza building did not meet the ILO (International Labour Organization) standard, which according to Abdul Latif the head of the special cabinet committee to inspect garment factories, was not an uncommon commodity. He told reporters that “we have seen that those who claim to be the best compliant factories in Bangladesh have not fully abided by building regulations,” which became evident after the collapse of the Rana Plaza.
Mr. Latif is not the only official who critiques the industry, Mainuddin Khondker the head of the task force to inspect garments factories said, “ In my view, 50% of garment factories are located on premises which are not safe.” Khondker added that there had been no prosecution against the factories for safety code violations as well as no actions holding the landlords of the property for dismissing building code regulations.
Rana is among the many landlords who do not follow regulation. It was reported that he illegally installed an additional three floors to the structure as well brought over weight machinery to increase the profit and productivity of the factory within the Plaza. What could be the cause for the lack of organization and responsibility?
The need for change
It is paramount that inspections must be done on a regulated schedule, far more frequent then it has been in the past. Proper maintenance must become enforced in protocol to ensure these structural design faults are caught and adjusted accordingly. The most important adjustment that needs to be made however, is ending the fallacies that have formed around the clothing manufacturing industry in Bangladesh. It has become common belief that all praise should be directed towards the entrepreneurs and investors in these factories. With an abundance of factories as well as garment laborers, foreign business are able to cut corners and relish in an almost guarantied immunity from legal repercussions.
A possible approach could simply be making such maintenance easy and affordable confirming that they are in working condition and also enforcing strict reprehension to those who do not follow the ILO standards of safety. Its human nature to forget things or put them off. A more regimented approach is required that would ensure inspections don’t get missed. Programs such as Fiix CMMS track maintenance schedules and inspections on assets such as buildings so the defects are spotted before they turn into something more serious. As Fiix is in the cloud, you can access it anywhere from any internet enabled device. This gives building inspectors the ability to make more efficient routine check ups, working from standardized checklists, preventing the possibility of employers putting their staff in danger, considering the report of the buildings status could be sent directly to the staff as well as the owners.
The collapse of the Rana Plaza and the media attention it has received will hopefully encourage changes within the garment and maintenance industry. Proper maintenance and inspection is to be more strictly enforced and if not enforced, then made available in these outsourced factories as the increase of irresponsible investors are held accountable for their cut corners.