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Walmart announced it will donate $1.6 million to the Institute of Sustainable Communities (ISC) to help fund improvements to fire safety standards in a Bangladesh factory that produces the retailer's clothing. The factory is also the site where a fire broke out in 2012, killing 112 people
The donation to the ISC was made to establish the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Academy for Bangladeshi factory workers. As a result of the new training academy, 2,000 managers in Bangladesh will receive the skills they need to help improve the safety and sustainability in factories.
"We urgently need to create long-term change in Bangladesh," said ISC President George Hamilton. "Today, the immediate need may be fire safety – but we can't tackle these challenges one at a time. From fire safety, to toxic chemicals, to greenhouse gas emissions – we need to stress comprehensive, systemic change in how factories understand and address interrelated environment, health and safety issues over the long term."
In January, Walmart implemented stronger fire safety standards in Bangladesh while also establishing a zero tolerance policy for unauthorized subcontracting. The company said it will continue to partner with nonprofits to raise work standards throughout the world.
"The EHS Academy is an important part of our ongoing commitment to improve fire safety standards in Bangladesh and we are proud to partner with ISC to address the critical need for training around fire safety, health and workplace safety," said Rajan Kamalanathan, vice president of ethical sourcing for Walmart.
Factory fire resulted in deaths and injures
A factory fire in Bangladesh last November caused the deaths of 112 people and injured at least 150 others.
According to Reuters, the garment factory that caught fire was manufacturing private-label clothing for Walmart. The corporation reportedly said it was unaware that the factory was making clothing for Walmart and that it had not authorized anyone to make products there.
The fire and subsequent criticism toward Walmart led to the company's latest push for safety regulations and the establishment of the EHS.
"With the focus that is there at the moment on fire safety, everyone is keen to make sure that they get the right level of controls in place to protect the workers," Kamalanathan told Reuters in an interview.
Safety equipment such as industrial fire alarms can assist in alerting workers to factory fires and other dangerous conditions in which fire may erupt.
Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection systems.