Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety

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SECOND INTERNATIONAL BUILDING AND FIRE SAFETY EXPO KICKS OFF TODAY IN DHAKA

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10,000 participants and 50 exhibitors participated in the largest safety expo in nation’s history

Dhaka, Bangladesh - The second International Trade Expo for Building and Fire Safety - the largest gathering of fire and safety equipment vendors, factory representatives and other stakeholders in Bangladesh's history—kicked off December 7 in Dhaka. The event brought garment industry leaders together with leading international safety equipment vendors and experts to help increase access to the latest safety expertise, tools and technologies in Bangladesh.

Access to internationally certified safety equipment, now required in many cases as a result of recent factory safety reforms, has historically been a tremendous challenge for Bangladesh factory owners. Very little certified equipment is made locally in Bangladesh, with nearly all requiring import.

“Unless the right equipment and practices are accessible to factory owners, sustainable reform cannot be achieved,” said the Honorable Ellen Tauscher, Independent Chair of the Alliance. “Our job is to ensure that change in the garment industry is lasting and meaningful, and that factory improvement continues over the long run.”

The Expo is sponsored and led in part by the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (Alliance), a coalition of 28 North American retailers that formed a binding, five-year agreement in 2013 to help dramatically improve garment factory safety in Bangladesh. The Alliance has inspected all 587 factories from which its Members source and has found that all factories will require some form of remediation—for which access to safety tools and technologies will be critical.

As a platform for diverse stakeholders, the Expo allows vendors, brands and factory management to discuss lessons learned and share strategies for remediating factories and strengthening the industry. Participants will attend lecture tracks to learn about the latest advances in fire doors, sprinklers and engineering assessments. Exhibitors include industry leaders such as Honeywell, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Litchfield, NAFFCO, Tyco and UL.

This week’s Expo builds on the momentum of the first-ever Expo convened in February 2014, which drew more than 2,500 participants. It also follows an important policy change advocated by the Alliance to the Bangladesh government to remove tariffs on imported factory safety equipment.

“After the great success of the first Expo, we knew the event should be replicated so that even more people could benefit from it,” said Alliance Managing Director Rabin Mesbah, “To protect garment workers, factory owners must first understand the importance of the new safety standards and have access to the correct equipment to bring their factories into compliance.”

The Expo will conclude with the second Social and Environmental Excellence (SEE) Awards on December 9, at which the first ever Fire and Building Safety Excellence Award, sponsored by the Alliance, will be presented to recognize efforts by factories committed to change. The Expo will also take place alongside the Dhaka Apparel Summit, December 7-8, an event organized to discuss the future of the garment industry that will include discussion on workplace safety, government policy and infrastructure.

For more information on the Expo, visit www.buildingandfiresafety.com

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