The Ministry of Labour and Employment has taken a noteworthy initiative, with support from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to digitise safety inspections at all factories around the country.
But all eyes are on the RMG industry, which became notorious for its lack of compliance and poor treatment of employees following two major disasters -- the Rana plaza collapse and Tazreen Fashion fire -- which claimed the lives of thousands of workers.
The new inspection system will go a long way towards ensuring worker safety and that will attract more foreign buyers.
Inspectors will be equipped with tablet computers and the whole inspection process will be streamlined and transparent, starting from efficient data collection to an e-filing system.
Digitisation will leave little room for human error or, more pertinently for Bangladesh, deliberate manipulation by unscrupulous inspectors.
Data once entered into the tablet cannot be altered later.
However, to make this plan work, inspectors must be properly trained and even factory owners/managers should be familiar with the digitised process. If they are not, inspectors should first explain the process to them before proceeding, to make it transparent, because the goal is to ensure worker safety, not for inspectors to trick or set a trap for factory owners.
Given how fleecing and harassing factory owners has been a common inspection practice in the past, it would be ideal if the factories were allowed to complete an online feedback survey to report such misdemeanours.
When our workers are able to work in a safe and healthy environment, we will see a drastic improvement in productivity, which will benefit all of us.