Fire safety: with the Bangladesh fire service
Fire safety at our suppliers’ production facilities is an important concern. In Bangladesh, we have trained the fire service to make sure it is properly managed.
Instead of treating our partners like simple suppliers, our approach has been to create a long-term relationship of trust by sharing our expertise, empowering them and working together with them. Our collaboration with the Bangladesh fire service is a great example. Working in partnership with overseas production facilities is not always easy. Even though standards are rarely as demanding as those in France, we want to offer the people working for our partners the same level of safety as our direct employees. But a French company imposing its own procedures and checks could be badly perceived by local people.
In such a sensitive situation, the ideal solution is to empower local people by sharing our techniques, technology, knowledge and expertise with them. Since 2015, our partners’ production facilities have been regularly audited to assess their safety and identify the most effective ways they could be improved. After a year of asking questions, listening, observing and talking to local people and teams, we understood that the most relevant and effective way forward was to work with the local fire service by training them rather than carrying out the checks and audits ourselves. It made a lot of sense for the fire service staff to carry out this work in their own country alongside their fellow countrymen and women. Although this seems self-evident, it is actually quite unusual and involves “bespoke” solutions tailored to the country’s specific circumstances and local customs. So, we got together with the Bangladesh fire service to create an operational unit responsible for carrying out the audits and checks on the workshops and factories that work with us. The results have been excellent: extremely reliable audits carried out to a very high technical standard at a reasonable cost.
Positive working relationships have been maintained, as factory employees are more inclined to cooperate with their fellow countrymen and women. This makes us the first private foreign company to have developed a local safety solution for textile workers. A collaborative continuous improvement project—that’s how we like to work!