Supporting the Accord remains central to our efforts to improve health and safety in the Bangladesh garment industry. The situation in Bangladesh is challenging, heightened in 2015 by political unrest, the Nepal earthquake and recurring safety incidents within the industry. We continue to collaborate with multiple stakeholders to identify and address fire, electrical and structural risks, and drive positive change. As of July 2016, the Accord had completed over 1,500 factory inspections and completed 1,450 corrective action plans.
We contribute to the Accord at multiple levels. Our Chief Risk Officer sits on the Accord Steering Committee and our CR and sourcing teams work closely to support our suppliers’ remediation efforts. In 2015, we began to coordinate efforts on behalf of all brand owners to improve safety in all factories where we have production. Our local assessors visited all 72 of PVH’s Bangladeshi suppliers to monitor progress, understand challenges and deliver training, and we held 27 joint CR-sourcing meetings at our Dhaka office to dive deeper into key issues.
As a result of this engagement, we addressed nearly 70% of the 5,725 issues uncovered through the assessment process. Though there is much more work to do, we are pleased that as of April 2016, our suppliers’ improvement rate was consistently higher than the Accord average.
One of the key challenges for retailers and brand owners sourcing in Bangladesh is that delays often occur in addressing safety issues. We conducted an in-depth analysis of the root causes of such delays, engaging with all stakeholders. Although the situation is highly complex, we discovered that the most prominent contributing factors are difficulty in procuring fire safety equipment, the lack of qualified engineers and designers and administrative delays by all stakeholders. Identifying the causes of these delays has led to more targeted and effective communication with both our suppliers and the Accord, which we believe will ultimately lead to swifter remediation of outstanding issues.
Additionally, with remediation underway, we are supporting the Accord’s efforts to empower workers to identify and raise safety issues. In 2015, we participated in an Accord pilot program to create and train worker health and safety committees in 40 factories. Through regular training sessions, committee members learn about hazard identification, complaints handling, collective problem-solving, monitoring workplace safety and remediation, enabling them to take a more active role in addressing safety issues. As of March 2016, all of our Bangladesh suppliers had set up committees. We will support the expansion of the program to more unionized factories in 2016.
We are committed to extending the building and fire safety lessons we have learned in Bangladesh across our supply chain. In 2015, we supported the FLA’s Fire Safety Initiative, which seeks to reduce fire risks and prevent injuries by empowering factories in countries beyond Bangladesh to develop a culture of safety. We collaborated with Nike, Patagonia and Columbia Sportswear on a training program for fire and safety trainers. Two members of our CR team are working toward becoming “Master Fire and Safety Trainers” who will in turn train local teams and factories, while five additional team members have received instruction to train factory-based Fire Safety Facilitators. Further, our work with the Accord has reinforced our tenement(1) policy, which prohibits suppliers in South Asian countries from using tenement buildings due to their high safety risk. We are looking to expand this policy to other high-risk regions in the future.
As we move forward in 2016, we will continue to analyze reasons for remediation delays, push for progress on remediation and apply the lessons we are learning throughout our supply chain to promote safe working conditions for the people making our products.