Walmart escalates inspection efforts in Bangladesh

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has announced plans to conduct in-depth safety inspections at every single factory in Bangladesh that produces goods for the retailer. The company says it aims to complete all reviews within six months and publicly release the names and inspection information on all 279 factories.  

Walmart began conducting inspections under the enhanced safety program earlier this year, and will begin posting results of those inspections on June 1. Walmart has also posted on its site a list of failed factories in Bangladesh that are no longer allowed to produce for the retailer. A list of all failed factories will follow in the next few weeks. 

"Transparency is vital to make progress in improving factory conditions, and by disclosing this information, government, workers, non-governmental agencies and companies can benefit from this work," said Rajan Kamalanathan, VP of ethical sourcing for Walmart. 

Walmart says it is increasing the pace and frequency of its follow-up inspections of factories in Bangladesh — it sends representatives to visit the factories every two months in an effort to “ensure both compliance and progress.”

The safety inspections are designed to provide detailed reports that allow the company to continue to make responsible sourcing decisions, and it will immediately stop production at facilities where urgent safety issues are identified, notify the factory owner and government authorities of the need to take action and require remediation.  

"If we identify issues that cause us to believe that people's lives are in danger, we will take swift action," said Kamalanathan. "Preventing the kinds of tragedies that have recently taken place in Bangladesh will only happen if all stakeholders across the board set clear parameters and take action to drive real safety and compliance improvements."

Walmart also plans to hire Bureau Veritas to provide fire safety training to every worker in every factory that produces goods for the company in Bangladesh. In addition, the company partnering with Labor Voices, a company that communicates directly with workers to identify and share concerns inside of factories, and contribute $600,000 to the grassroots organization. 

"Walmart is committed to a global supply chain that first and foremost provides safe conditions for workers," said Kamalanathan. "In announcing these changes, Walmart is focusing directly on the most urgent issue, and that's worker safety. We invite others to join us in this effort." 

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