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HÀNỘI – A new safety initiative has been launched in Vietnam which aims to protect workers from structural, fire and electrical safety risks in apparel and footwear factories. The initiative draws on lessons from the Bangladesh Accord and Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, including requesting the development of corrective action plans by garment factories and potential loss of business for factories which don’t meet required safety requirements. Leading brands which source from Vietnam, including Walmart, Bestseller, Target, VF Corporation are among those supporting the programme, which Apparel Insider understands has also been piloted in India and will also be rolled out in Pakistan and Cambodia moving forwards. A pilot phase of the programme has been implemented at 29 apparel and footwear factories across Vietnam, with a plan to widen the scale in the near future.

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The Life and Building Safety Initiative (LABS) has been launched by the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) in co-operation with IDH, a Dutch sustainable trade initiative.

Under the initiative, factories will commit to adhering to a country-level safety standard, based on Vietnamese and existing industry regulations, of fire, electrical and building safety as well as environmental protection.

“Recent fires and the collapses of factories in many countries, resulting in high death tolls, highlight the importance of stricter structural safety. This has become a major concern for international brands and distributors. We are hoping that LABS will be playing an active role to contribute to the development of Vietnam’s apparel and footwear industry,” said IDH Vietnam director, Huỳnh Tiến Dũng at the launch.

We understand that the initiative, which has been surprisingly kept very low key to now, has been piloted in Vietnam and India during the past 18 months. The IDH chose not to roll it out to Bangladesh due to the success of the Bangladesh Accord there but, instead, is drawing on best practice from that.

The IDH is said to be developing a vetted and trained pool of local safety experts for assessments, drafting CAPs, and remediation.

We also understand the LABS Initiative is working with Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC). Together with FFC, LABS Initiative is creating a database to support the onboarding of and service provision to factories, as well as to monitor progress and gather information for public reporting.

More on this story in our next printed magazine.

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