125 Accord inspections in 34 factories
By signing the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, Stockmann is committed to having all of the factories producing garments for the Group audited on the basis of three different inspections: fire safety, electricity and structural issues. The structural inspection includes calculations on the load-bearing capacity of a building, which is something that cannot be inspected in audits made by BSCI or our internal audits. The total number of factories covered by Accord inspections in Bangladesh is more than 1,100.
All 34 factories producing for the Stockmann Group in Bangladesh have been visited and a total of 125 inspections were made in 2014. Eight inspections remain to be carried out in 2015. After each inspection, a corrective action plan with deadlines is produced. One factory building was closed down and then reopened in a different location. One factory was shut down temporarily and soon reopened after the required improvements were made. During the period of almost two years since signing the Accord, considerable progress has been made.
The most common violations include absence of fire doors, automatic sprinklers or fire alarm systems, and the presence of locked egress doors and gates. The most urgent matters have been corrected. Electrical issues, which are the cause of approximately 70 per cent of all fires in Bangladesh, have been the easiest and quickest to fix. Other issues, such as installation of fire doors, take longer to put right. This is because imported products such as fire doors are not readily available in Bangladesh, a challenge that affects all factories there and requires cooperation with the government to be resolved. The next step is the remediation part of the assessments, and through our local presence in the purchase office, we work together with the suppliers to follow up on the corrective action plans and to make sure that all improvements are made and deadlines kept.
Visiting our supplier factories
In April 2014, on the anniversary of the devastating factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, eyes were once again turned to Bangladesh to see whether the situation has changed there. While Stockmann had no ties with any of the factories in the collapsed Rana Plaza building, we did attract attention because Stockmann had publicly disclosed that it has contract production in Bangladesh, and at that time it was the only Finnish company committed to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
Several media organizations contacted us to visit some of the factories producing garments for Stockmann, and we did our best to facilitate these visits. To better respond to the stakeholder interest around Bangladesh, Stockmann’s Communications Director, responsible for CSR, and Lindex’s Press Relations Manager, together with Stockmann’s CSR specialist, visited the factories in Dhaka and met with colleagues at the Stockmann purchase office in Dhaka, as well as representatives of the Accord and BSCI. The results of the visit were communicated internally to increase personnel awareness on Stockmann’s CSR work and incorporated in the Group website. Bangladesh and the Accord were also visible at Lindex’s 60th anniversary celebrations in the form of a video and presentations from factory managers from Bangladesh invited to the event.