Agro-processors asked to ensure safe workplace

    In light of the recent fire at the Hashem Foods factory in Narayanganj, where 52 workers were tragically killed, the Bangladesh Agricultural Workers Association (BAPA) has issued instructions to its members on safety measures that could help prevent such disasters.

    BAPA also urged its members to ensure that their factories are completely free of all forms of child labor.

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    The agro-processors’ association informed its 569 members across the country of the new instructions in a letter issued on Saturday.

    The instructions include taking appropriate measures to prevent fires, widening doors and stairs to facilitate faster movement and introducing evacuation drills so that workers know how to leave their premises safely and regularly, according to with a copy of the letter he received The Daily Star.

    In addition, BAPA urged its members to raise fire safety awareness with the help of local fire departments.

    Likewise, co-operation with civil defense organizations could help ensure compliance with existing labor laws, he said.

    Following a horrific fire at Hashem Foods, the BAPA executive committee held an emergency meeting on July 11, where they decided to take appropriate precautionary measures to prevent any kind of accident or loss of life at other factories.

    In addition, the association is also considering setting a safety standard for industry to ensure compliance, he added.

    BAPA Secretary General Iqtadul Hoque stated that they intend to first adopt certain global safety standards, such as the regulations set out in the Agreement and the Alliance for the Garment Industries.

    The Accord and Alliance, two foreign inspection and rehabilitation platforms, were created to enhance workplace safety in the local apparel sector following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in April 2013.

    BAPA will start dealing with safety compliance measures in the industry after Eid-ul-Azha with the help of some garment factory owners who also operate agricultural factories.

    “And although agricultural products and clothing are two different sectors, we will follow some common and basic measures of compliance with clothing safety,” he added.

    Hook went on to say that the tragic fire at Hashem Foods opened the eyes of the agro-processing industry.

    “We now understand that if we want factories to function properly while we are developing the industry, we have to find any weaknesses and address them accordingly,” he told the Daily Star on Saturday.

    Asked about the use of child labor at Hashem Foods, which is a member of BAPA, Hook said they did not know about the issue before the fire.

    The agricultural sector is a relatively new and growing sector, so there is a small learning curve, as evidenced by the Hashem Foods incident.

    “After the fire, many weaknesses and limitations of the factory were discovered and we are learning a lesson from them, so that such issues are not repeated,” he added.

    On July 8, at least 52 workers, including children, were killed in a devastating fire at the Hashem Foods plant that produced fruit drinks and biscuits.

    The incident comes at a time when the country’s agricultural exports have exceeded $ 1 billion for the first time despite the ongoing Koranic pandemic.

    According to BAPA, locally produced agricultural products are regularly exported to more than 145 countries.

    Newsvibe24 Source