In-Depth Factory Assessments

Bureau Veritas and the assessment process

As part the effort to reform the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh, Walmart contracted with Bureau Veritas to conduct electrical, fire and building safety assessments at 100% of the factories in Bangladesh that directly produce products for sale at Walmart.

Through our work with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, funds are available (if needed) to help factory owners make needed remediations and to support workers who may be temporarily displaced by remediation projects. More information on these funds, as well as the Alliance and its programs can be found here

Bureau Veritas (BV) is a world leader in assessment and certification services with more than 180 years of experience in testing assessment and certification. They are accredited by major national and international organizations, with more than 60,000 employees and 1,330 offices and labs in 140 countries, including Bangladesh. 

BV’s assessment professionals possess technical expertise in, fire, building and electrical safety.  These teams use their skills and tools to identify unsafe factory conditions such as improper wiring, hot spots in electrical systems and building structural issues. 

In addition, during this assessment process BV’s engineers also provide fire safety training to management and certain employees including supervisors, designated fire marshals, fire brigade members and security personnel who in turn provide training to the entire factory population.

If an immediate risk to worker safety is identified at any time during the factory assessment process, Walmart will immediately order suppliers to stop production of Walmart merchandise at the facility; notify the factory owner, Bangladesh Garment and Manufacturing Export Association (BGMEA) and government authorities of the need to take action; and require remediation before production is allowed to resume. Transparency is vital to reform and helps all stakeholders understand and address factory conditions.  Walmart is posting results below of the enhanced safety assessments in order to provide information to partners committed to real change.


The Assessment Process:

Phase 1 – Safety Risk Pre-Assessment

During Phase 1, a team of experienced engineers from BV conducts an initial safety risk assessment focusing on issues that pose immediate risk to worker safety.  This assessment takes 1-2 days and consists of the following:

  • Reviewing the factory’s plans, licenses and permits to identify any illegal or inappropriate construction or building additions.
  • Reviewing the electrical system for issues that could produce hot spots through overheating of electrical wires or other sources of ignition.
  • Conducting a thorough visual assessment of potential fire and building safety issues.
  • Interviewing factory management regarding compliance with safety standards and regulatory requirements.
  • Examining building construction and organization and identifying areas that could present risks to emergency responses.

Based on the results of these steps, the engineers:

  • Identify urgent risks to worker safety. If found, Walmart will immediately take action by ordering suppliers to stop production of Walmart merchandise at the facility; notifying the factory owner, Bangladesh Garment and Manufacturing Export Association (BGMEA) and government authorities of the need to take action; and requiring remediation before production is allowed to resume. 
  • Identify critical safety issues and specify needed remediation projects. Factory owners will then carry out a remediation plan.
  • Prioritize factories for more in-depth assessments based on the severity of issues found. 

Phase 2 – Initial Electrical and Building Safety Assessment

In Phase 2, BV conducts detailed electrical and building safety risk assessment with the goal of identifying safety issues. A team of experienced professionals, including civil and electrical engineers, (typically 6 to 8 per team) conducts the assessment over an 8- to 20-day period that consists of the following:

  • Building design review:
  1. Confirmation of approved building design and verification of civil design compared to major dimensions of existing building construction.
  2. Review of building utilization permits. 
  3. Review of permit compliance with local legislation.
  4. Review of exit routes, fire detection systems and response elements, including sprinkler systems and fire mains. 
  • Facility overview and factory management meetings.

  • Building structural integrity visual assessment. 

  • Electrical load testing: 
  1. Measurement of circuit parameters including voltage, current, insulation, and leakage to identify system performance. Identify existing or upcoming risks.
  2. Review of circuit load in relation to system protections to identify the degree of protection against overload and hot spots.
  • Factory walls and electrical systems thermal imaging.
  • Local legislation and global standards compliance review.
  • Factory management review of assessment report.

At the end of this detailed Phase 2 assessment, the BV engineers prepare a report with a comprehensive evaluation of the factory’s electrical and building safety risks, including photos of potentially unsafe conditions, thermal photos of hot spots, detailed electricity measurements and a complete account of electrical and fire safety features. 

The Phase 2 report assigns a score for each deficiency identified by the engineers and a total score for the factory based on the number and severity of issues identified and the building’s square footage.  The report is provided to Walmart and the factory, and is divided into three segments: electrical safety, building safety and fire training services.

1.  Electrical Safety
The electrical section of the Phase 2 report includes an evaluation of the electrical system for the factory from the electrical source to the final electric outlet or load point, using thermal imagery to search for unsafe conditions such as hot spots.  The report also measures the system’s electrical current and voltage to assess circuit performance, insulation and leakage to identify issues and the degree of protection against overload. 

2.  Building Safety
The building safety section of the Phase 2 report includes a visual assessment of the building for evidence of the following: structural distress, compliance with local laws regarding evacuation routes, fire detection systems, fire response elements, building design and construction and permitting. 

A report from an approved civil engineer proving that the factory has resolved the structural integrity issues is also required for factories where issues have been identified.

3.  Fire Safety
The fire safety section of the Phase 2 report includes an analysis of employee understanding and awareness of: fire safety hazards, knowledge of escape routes, firefighting equipment and methods, emergency response procedures and other fire safety awareness issues.  The report outlines these issues and recommends improvements to the existing factory fire safety training program.  

As part of Phase 2, BV engineers also provide fire safety training to management and certain employees including supervisors, designated fire marshals, fire brigade members, and security personnel who in turn provide training to the entire factory population.


Phase 3 – First Follow-up Assessment

During Phase 3, an engineering team from BV returns to the factory to verify that the required remediation from Phase 2 were made.  Following this assessment, BV will issue a follow-up report outlining the factory’s progress and key issues that are still in the process of being remediated. 


Phase 4 - Second Follow-up Assessment

During Phase 4, an independent inspector from BV will return to the factory to verify that the outstanding issues identified have been addressed.
 


Assessment Disclosures:

Below are reports that summarize the Phase 3 follow-up assessment results that include initial safety scores, status at the time of the review, and factory safety improvement scores. All factories on this list have also undergone and passed our standard social assessments. We will continue to add to this list as factory reports are completed.

4 YOU CLOTHING LTD AND FASHION 2000 LTD
A.T.S.APPARELS LTD
ABONI KNITWEAR LTD
ACS TEXTILES (BANGLADESH) LTD. & ACS Towel Limited