Factory fire in Bangladesh in November 2012
The Bangladesh factory fire broke out in November 2012 in midnight at the multi-floor Fashion factory, located in Ashulia district. Even though the main cause of the fire is unclear, some of the official investigators suspect that it resulted from electrical short circuit. Other sources claim that the owner of the factory started the fire deliberately. This is because the working conditions within the factory were extremely poor; the factory failed to enforce all safety requirements, and there was overcrowding (Chiu & Lahiri, 2012). Initially, the fire started in the warehouse that acted as yarn storage. However, the fire quickly spread to other floors of the nine-storey building. According to the industry officials, most of the workers had left during the fire incident but almost 600 workers were still working for overtime (Chiu & Lahiri, 2012).
The Bangladesh fire, which gutted the eight storey of the Tazreen Fashion building killed at least 112 workers and left about 150 with severe injuries. The numbers of deaths were high because of various factors including the sense that fire fighters took long to contain the fire. Most people lost their lives as the fighters attempted to rescue them. According to the fire department operations, many people died of fire because the factory lacked the escape exit, which could lead people out of the factory (Jopson, Kazmin & Milne, 2012). In addition, the factory only had three staircases and all of them led their way down through the ground floor. These failed to provide adequate escape route that could enable workers get out when the fire. There were many casualties because the factory officials prevented the workers from leaving the factory by closing all the exits when the fire started. A report from the head of fire service and civil defend indicated that the fire safety certificate for the factory had expired. Another possibility for the many deaths could be the fact that the factory had poor conditions characterized with overcrowding, locked doors and poor enforcement of essential safety laws (Jopson, Kazmin & Milne, 2012).
After China, the Bangladesh garment industry ranks the second largest exporter of clothing. This enabled the industry to employ the largest segment of the population in the country most of them being women. The factory started in 2010, offering employment to more than 1,500 people. It also makes sales of about $35 millions in a year. The factory operates about 5000 sweatshops in the country, and it produces clothes that are supplied to the leading corporations in the U.S and Europe. In respect to this, the factory is a crucial stakeholder in the garments industry in the country that comprises of about 80% total exports in Bangladesh. The country obtains about $19 billion earnings from the company and acts as a major source of employments in the country (Jopson, Kazmin & Milne, 2012).
The factory supply products to varying retailers including the European clothing stores C&A, Edinburgh Woolen Mill and the Wal-Mart, which is the giant retailer in U.S. After the outbreak, Thorsten Rolfes who assumed the role of head of corporate and communication for the C&A in Europe sympathized with both families and victims of the fire and promised to support them. On the contrary, Walmart claimed that the owner of the clothing factory had been making and supplying its clothes to the corporation without their knowledge. Interestingly, the report provided by the International Labor Rights Forum claimed that investigations affirm that the factory had been supplying the clothes to the Wal-Mart faded glory line and other American and foreign companies (Belz, 2012)
After the incident, thousands of people in Bangladesh joined the street protests demanding better protection in order to avoid such incidences in the future. Remarkably, thousands of anxious people in Bangladesh gathered around the factory to establishing the condition of their relatives. Hundreds of workers carrying black flags also help demonstrations within the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirt of the factory. The demonstrators blocked roads causing immense traffic on the highway while threatening to revenge because of deaths of their colleagues (Walter, 2012).
Many retailers have adopted strategies for preventing such incidences in future. For example, most of them have adopted the workers compensation laws and workplace safety regulations. Most factories are discouraging child labor and are advocating for frequent fire inspections (Jopson, Kazmin & Milne, 2012). Additionally, there are growing efforts of worker groups in Bangladesh demanding safety reforms especially in factories that have experienced severe incidences of fires in the past years. Notably, Wal-Mart introduced a program that is currently working across apparel industry in order to enhance fire safety education as well as training in factories within Bangladesh (Walter, 2012). There are different historical analogies linked to the Bangladesh fire. These include the fact that the factory had notoriously poor conditions, it had failed to enforce the required safety laws, the environment was overcrowded, and all exit doors were locked. Furthermore, the company was running while its fire certificate had expired (Anbarasan, 2012).
Anbarasan, E. (2012, Dec 25). Dhaka Bangladesh clothes factory fire kills more than 100. BBC News Asia. Retrieved from:
Belz, A. (2012, Dec 23). Factory fires bedevil garment industry. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1243109524?accountid=45049
Chiu, J., & Lahiri, T. (2012, Nov 26). Factory fire sets off protest in Bangladesh. Wall Street Journal (Online). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1197350842?accountid=45049
Jopson, B., Kazmin, A., & Milne, R. (2012, Dec 19). Cheap clothes come at a price in the factories of bangladesh. Financial Times. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1240655382?accountid=45049
Walter, L. (2012). More than 100 workers die in Bangladesh garment factory fire. EHS Today, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1197639353?accountid=45049