Design That Saves Lives: Structural Safety Assessments of Textile Factory Buildings in Bangladesh

  • Development of a methodology for assessing the structural safety of the factories in Bangladesh.
  • Over 3,700 factories in this country have been inspected to date using our structural methodology.
  • All exporting factories are now assessed using the Arup-developed methodology.

Following the disaster in Rana Plaza in 2013, where a garment factory collapsed with the loss of 1,136 lives, we were asked to develop a methodology for assessing the structural safety of the factories in Bangladesh.

Understanding the importance of the garment industry for the people of Bangladesh, employing more than four million people, we came up with a pragmatic approach for carrying out the structural safety assessments, focusing on critical life–safety issues.

Driving change

Post-Rana Plaza, we have supported a number of clients in driving an agenda of change. So far, we have inspected over 800 factories there for Inditex (Spanish retail group) and the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety—an umbrella organisation of clothing companies, employers and workers' representatives. We have provided clear advice on actions required to ensure the safety of the workers, including closure of a small number of facilities. In addition, we have overseen and provided a quality review role on an additional 750 fire, electrical and structural factory inspections which were commissioned by the International Labour Organisation on behalf of the Bangladesh Government.

In total, over 3,700 factories in Bangladesh were inspected using our structural methodology. All exporting factories are now assessed using the Arup-developed methodology.

The challenge presented by this project was how to balance the immediate requirement of preventing another Rana Plaza without shutting down an entire industry which is critical to the national economy.

The structural safety assessments are directly leading to safer workplaces for those employed in garment factories, ensuring that people feel safer going to work every day.

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  • External view of one of the buildings. Credit: Arup.Open gallery

    In total, over 2,500 factories in Bangladesh have been inspected to date using our structural methodology.

  • View of one of Arup engineers playing with some kids in Bangladesh. Credit: Arup.Open gallery

    We have provided clear advice on actions required to ensure the safety of the workers, including closure of a small number of facilities.

  • Screen grab from the video. Credit: Arup.Play video

    Following the disaster in Rana Plaza in 2013, Arup developed a methodology for assessing the structural safety of the factories in Bangladesh. All exporting factories are now assessed using the Arup-developed methodology.