In Wake of Tragedy, Wal-Mart Raises the Bar on Safety Standards
Wal-Mart said Tuesday that it would conduct in-depth safety inspections at all 279 of the factories it works with in Bangladesh and will publicly release the findings, as pressure mounts on retailers to ensure worker safety after April's deadly building collapse there.
The world's largest retailer said it also would have European testing and inspection company Bureau Veritas provide fire safety training for all workers in every factory in Bangladesh that produces its goods. Bureau Veritas assesses factories and trains workers in Bangladesh for Wal-Mart.
The Bentonville, Ark.-based company began more rigorous inspections earlier this year, following a factory fire in November that killed more than 110 people. That factory produced goods for Wal-Mart and other retailers.
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Wal-Mart said the inspections would be completed in the next six months and that it would begin posting inspection results on June 1.
The company will immediately order its production stopped at facilities where urgent safety issues are identified, notify the factory owner and government authorities of the need to take action, and require remediation.
"Transparency is vital to make progress in improving factory conditions, and by disclosing this information, government, workers, nongovernmental agencies and companies can benefit from this work," Rajan Kamalanathan, Wal-Mart's vice president of ethical sourcing, said in a statement.
Wal-Mart has not said whether it would sign a Bangladesh fire and building safety accord drawn up by labor groups including Europe's IndustriALL and UNI Global Union and nongovernmental organizations.
Those groups have set a May 15 deadline for retailers to sign on.
—By CNBC's Javier E. David