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Bangladesh's Factory Inspectorate - Inspections and Investigations
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Bangladesh Inspectorate Page

Inspections and Investigation

Process of Inspection and Investigations
Every month, each inspector/assistant inspector, draws up a plan setting out which companies s/he intends to inspect. Once this has been approved by the Deputy Chief Inspector, the inspector writes a letter to the businesses informing them that they will be visited on a particular day. The dock labour safety officer does not draw up a list but waits until ships come to the port.

The process by which inspection should take place is as follows. Inspectors (medical) and inspectors (engineering) each have their own checklist corresponding to duties imposed upon the business in relation to ‘health’ and ‘safety’ respectively. If a violation is identified, the inspector marks this on the checklistand at the end of the inspection, the employer (and worker representative) are asked to sign this document. The inspector then writes to the employer setting out the nature of the violations and a time period by which the violation should be rectified. For certain violations (i.e. those involving bathrooms, staircases, cleanliness, electrical wiring, machine guards, personal protective equipments) a period of one month will be given; for other violations (involving day care centres, ventilation systems and lighting etc) a period of between three and six months is given; and for violations that require construction to take place, a period of more than six months will be provided. After the time period has expired a follow-up visit will take place after first informing the company by letter or phone. If the violation still exists, the inspector will either give more time or take a decision to prosecute.

To read what obligations employers have, and the powers of inspectors, click here
Safety check list (relates to Factories Act not new Labour Codes)
Health Check list (relates to Factories Act not new Labour Codes)
Dock worker check list (relates to Factories Act not new Labour Codes)

Provision of Advice
Our research indicates that the provision of advice to employers about their legal obligations and about how these can be complied with, appears to be limited. This is shown by the following:

the process of inspection seems focused on the identification of violations;

the Inspectorate does not publish any advice leaflets or guidance;

comments made by a representative of one employers organisation:

“Inspectors have no role to facilitate owners to follow the laws. Many of the owners don’t have ideas about the Factory Acts. You know many Ready Made Garment factory owners are not sufficiently qualified to understand the law. I think [that the] inspectorate should play an awareness-creating role; however the inspectorate has no initiative to campaign among the owners to follow the obligations under the Factory Act and Rules.

You will not find any campaign materials or any promotional activities in order to motivate the owners.
Normally owners submit application[s] with [the] factory lay out and other required papers for getting licence from Inspectorate. In most of the cases, [the] Inspectorate don’t play any facilitating role so that the owners can understand easily the requirements for getting licence, instead they create a difficult situation for the owners.”

However, the Inspectorate has told us that its inspectors do provide two types of training to employers. One is for mid-level managers which lasts for one week – with accommodation, food etc provided by the Inspectorate. About twenty five of these take place each month. The other kind of training is for workers – which take the form of short lectures and are arranged inside the factories.

Inspectors can also investigate reported injuries. To see what employers should report, click here

There is no obligation on inspectors to investigate deaths – but it appears to be common practice for an investigation into a reported death and serious injury to take place.

One of the purposes of any investigation into an injury is to assist in the process of obtaining compensation for an injured worker or family of a deceased worker. CCA's research shows that very few cases result in a compensation claim. In Dhaka labour court, between 2002-2005, there were 105 cases involving 18 separate incidents – all but one involving a death (see table below).

Compensation cases filed in Dhaka Division, 2002-5

  Individual cases filed Numbers of separate incidents Unpaid by June 2006
2002 7 3 2


6 6 0
2004 9 6 0
2005 83 3 6
TOTAL 105 18 8

Numbers of Inspections
Due to the low number of inspectors, there is also a low number of inspections carried out. The Inspectorate is unable to provide us with the number of health/safety inspections undertaken by factory inspectors. We were however told that these inspectors undertake an average of about 10 to 12 inspections each month. Assuming that each inspector undertakes 12 inspections, this would mean that in Dhaka each month, there would be 36 safety inspections and 36 health inspections and that each year there would therefore be 432 safety and 432 health inspections. In Chittagong, there would be 36 health inspections per month and 432 per year – but there would be no safety inspections.

In Dhaka, therefore, each year a factory will have a one in 27 chance of receiving a visit from a safety inspector and a one in 27 chance of receiving a visit from a health inspector. This is a one in 729 chance of receiving both a health and safety inspection. A factory in Chittagong has a one in 11 chance of a health inspection. It should be noted however that about one third of these inspections are follow-up visits and some involve licence inspections.

Moreover since a fire at the KTS garments factory in Chittagong in February 2006 that killed 58 people, inspectors are only inspecting garment factories; there are no inspections being undertaken into any other kind of factory. Even the dock inspector is only inspecting garment factories. This is a reflection of the very low numbers of inspectors.

In addition, in Chittagong, since 2005 there have been no inspections into any of the 99 ship-breaking yards – despite the notoriously poor working conditions in these sites – because there are not enough inspectors.

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Page last updated on April 30, 2007