US official says fashion firms must help Bangladesh safety

City A.M. Reporter
INTERNATIONAL garment buyers, particularly those in the United States, have a crucial role to play in ensuring the safety of Bangladesh’s garment workers, a senior government official said yesterday.

A series of deadly incidents at factories in Bangladesh, including the collapse of a building housing garment factories last month that killed 1,130 people, has focused global attention on safety in the industry.

“On the labour issue, absolutely, buyers have a critical role and they must be engaged,” US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy R Sherman told a news conference in the Bangladeshi capital.

Western retailers and brands are struggling to assess safety risks at thousands of Bangladesh garment factories after the 24 April collapse of the Rana Plaza building in a Dhaka suburb.

Their task is made tougher by a lack of robust safety rules, a severe shortage of trained building inspectors and equipment needed to make proper safety assessments, and widespread concern about corruption.