Hundreds of Garment Workers Killed in Building Collapse

By ThinkReliability Staff

Hundreds are confirmed dead – with hundreds more still missing – as a result of a building collapse in Bangladesh.  The number of people who were in the building when it collapsed is unclear, due to spotty records.  Some sources have suggested the death toll may surpass 1,000.

We can examine the causes that led to the deaths in a Cause Map, which visually diagrams the cause-and-effect relationships that led to the tragedy.  First, we capture the impacts to the goals, which includes the extremely significant impact to the safety goal due to the high number of deaths as well as many other goals, including compliance, production and the impact to the labor goal resulting from the rescue and recovery operations.

The deaths were caused by the collapse of a building which was partially occupied at the time. The building housed five garment factories, as well as a bank and other shops.  Even though cracks appeared in the building   and inspectors requested evacuation and closure of the building, garment workers were ordered back to work.    The bank was evacuated, and the shops were already closed.  Despite deplorable conditions (brought to the attention first by a building fire last November and now by this tragic collapse),  workers (mainly young women)   can still be found to work in the garment industry because the average wages in the country are so low.  Eight people, including the building owner and engineers, have been charged as a result of the collapse.

The building, which was illegally built 3 stories too high, was not up to code and not approved by the government.  The building was built on wetland and used substandard materials for construction. As a result of this collapse, the government has said it will form a committee to ensure the safety of buildings and workers.  Shops in the US and Europe that sell garments produced in Bangladesh have distanced themselves from the companies housed in the buildings while many consumers call for more oversight from these companies, who utilize cheap labor in Bangladesh to create their goods.  The garment industry accounts for 77% of Bangladesh’s exports.

It is hoped that this recent tragedy will increase the attention paid to worker safety by the government within Bangladesh as well as consumers who buy the end product abroad.

To view the Outline and Cause Map, please click “Download PDF ” above.