For the first time in any global supply chain, genuinely independent inspections of garment factories are identifying and correcting life safety hazards that have killed hundreds of Bangladesh garment workers in recent years.
A whistleblower complaint charging the Department of Industrial Relations with misuse of state and federal funds designated for Cal/OSHA, the state workplace health and safety agency, was filed with the California State Auditor on Tuesday, April 1st by a 20-yearveteran of the agency – me -- who retired in January 2014.
The integrity of the occupational health and safety profession is under threat as it is being drawn into “certifying” that sweatshop factories in global supply chains in the developing world are safe and meet international standards for protecting workers on the job.
Words fail at times like this – another garment factory fire in Bangladesh; 112 dead and 150 injured; another round of despair and anguish for the workers and their families; another round of denials by international garment brands that they bear any responsibility; another round of promises by the brands and their contractors that they will “do better” while refusing to acknowledge that it is their “profits first and foremost” production system that has led to fire after fire after fire.
It happened again in Bangladesh in December 2010 - a fire in a garment factory killed 29 workers and hundreds were injured as they were suffocated, burned alive, trampled in stairwells, or leapt to their deaths from the 9th and 10th floors - because four of seven exit doors were locked.
I must say that I'm amazed at the near-hysteria of some of your readers about having an OSHA leadership that actually tries to do its job rather than just process VPP applications and praise corporate declarations of their "commitment to excellence."
Millions of workers in China’s contracted factories, in the “export processing zones” in Central America, Asia and Africa, and in the maquiladoras on the U.S.-Mexico border continue to work in dangerous, unhealthy workplaces.