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H&M commits to safety plan for Bangladesh factories

Posting in Sustainability

Three weeks after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, authorities have called off the search for bodies. The final death toll: 1,127.

Meanwhile, retail giant H&M, the largest purchaser of garments from Bangladesh, committed today to measures that will improve safety in the country's garment factories.

The legally-binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was initiated by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union. As The New York Times reports:

The factory safety agreement calls for independent, rigorous factory safety inspections with public reports and mandatory repairs and renovations underwritten by Western retailers. It also calls for retailers to stop doing business with any factory that refuses to make necessary safety improvements, and for workers and their unions to have a substantial voice on factory safety.

Now H&M is calling on other retailers in the Bangladesh garment business to join them.

"H&M has for many years taken the lead to improve and secure the safety of the workers in the garment industry. With this commitment we can now influence even more in this issue. We hope for a broad coalition of signatures in order for the agreement to work effectively on ground,” said Helena Helmersson, H&M's sustainability head, in a statement.

Following H&M in signing the accord today were Spanish company Inditex (known for its Zara brand) and Dutch brand C&A. Preceding those three retailers in signing the accord were PVH and Tchibo. The deadline to sign is May 15. Over one million people have already signed petitions to put pressure on more major brands to sign on.

H&M Agrees to Bangladesh Safety Plan [New York Times]

Photo: Flickr/Richard, enjoy my life!

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— By on May 13, 2013, 2:31 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure