Bangladesh Building Collapse: Shoddy Materials, Bad Choices to Blame

by , 05/31/13   filed under: Eco-Fashion News, Featured, Worker Rights

Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor

Photo by Andrew Biraj for Reuters

The disaster of Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza Building collapse, which killed 1,127 people, is a result of a serious of bad, horrible, choices. A committee appointed by Bangladesh’s government recently concluded a study as to why the building collapsed. Their findings reveal that everything starting from the site of the building, to it’s foundation, selection of materials, construction, inspections, approval and operation all factored into to the catastrophic failure of the garment factory. The owner of the building, Sohel Rana has been arrested along with three engineers and four factory owners, who will all be tried for the role they played in the disaster.

Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, workers rights, human rights, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor

Photo by Wong Maye-E for Associated Press

When workers noticed cracks in the building’s walls and pillars the day before the collapse, the building was shut down briefly. But the next day, the owners and factory managers forced their employees to return and resume work. Unfortunately this wasn’t the start of the problem, it was merely the culmination of a series of poor, ignorant and misguided choices. The study performed by Bangladesh’s government reviewed the damage, construction plans, and the site to learn where the fault lay. The findings revealed that even from the very beginning the project was riddled with problems and doomed for failure.

Starting with the location of the building, the ground itself used to be covered in water and was filled with trash, which did not provide a good solid foundation on which to build a factory or any building for that matter. During construction, Sohel Rana “used extremely poor quality iron rods and cement,” according to committee head Khandker Mainuddin Ahmed, and the building featured “a series of irregularities.” Rana had permission to build a six-story building, but illegally constructed two more on top for a total of eight stories. In addition, the factory was not intended as a garment factory at all, so it was not designed to handle the number of employees, the heavy machinery or their resulting vibrations. What is even more shocking is that the government never caught these mistakes during an inspection in either construction or operation phases.

All of these factors added up to a failure that was bound to happen. Rana, his fellow owners, building engineers and inspectors are fully to blame, but they could have saved lives if they had conceded that the building was flawed and not forced the employees to return to work. The study, while not surprising, reveals how flawed the system is. Both construction and the garment industry have a long way to go to improve conditions and ensure this never happens again.

[Via The Huffington Post]

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