Costs and benefits of programmes to prevent occupational accidents and diseases in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector
A study commissioned by the Bangladesh-German Employment Injury Protection Scheme for Workers in the Textile and Leather Industries Programme (EIPS)
Published by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in March 2021.
Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry has been a driving force for the country’s economic development. The working conditions for the mainly female workforce, however, has, for a long time, failed to meet international standards. Following the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, which led to the death of more than 1,100 people and injured more than 2,000, worker safety was pushed to the centre of the political agenda in Bangladesh. An Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was signed between retailers, trade unions and global brands with the aim to build a safer and healthier Bangladeshi ready-made garment industry, foreseeing a “strong role” for the International Labour Organization (ILO). Beyond this role, the ILO has worked on employment injury protection in Bangladesh since 2013 and, jointly with the EU, encouraged the adoption of amendments to the Bangladesh Labour Law regarding the improvement of workers’ rights.
This study attempts to provide a preliminary overview of the costs and benefits of the comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector from the perspective of individual factories. The aim is to demonstrate to textile sector entrepreneurs the return on their investments in OHS.
Method and dataset
In September 2020, a comprehensive survey was conducted in 80 factories participating in the Bangladesh-German ‘Employment Injury Protection Scheme for Workers in the Textile and Leather Industries Programme (EIPS)’. The survey contained over 170 items covering the prevalence of a long list of injuries and occupational disease and the associated costs over five years, 2015 to 2019.
There is no widespread culture or system of data collection and reporting in the factories yet so that only data from 27 factories with the most complete data reports were included in the analysis. The factories represent small, medium and large factories in Greater Dhaka and Chattagram. The data sets include factories’ annual revenue and employment data. The average “labour productivity” (annual turnover / number of employees) of the factories included was USD 16,176, with a median of USD 12,971. Data include statistics on annual numbers of injuries by type of injury as well as the documented costs (from a factory perspective) associated with the different injury types.
The report presents general observations on accidents followed by costs of running OHS programmes, costs of injuries and accidents as well of benefits, including employment injury benefits and observations on the current practice of OHS data collection in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment factories. In its final chapter the report proposes a way forward for this data collection in a way that allows companies, as well as the sector as a whole, to understand OHS as integral element of economic progress and development.