Winnipeg man to help mend Bangladesh garment industry

A Winnipeg fire expert has been appointed the head of safety inspection for the troubled Bangladesh garment industry.

Brad Loewen appointed chief safety inspector by global accord on fire and building safety

Winnipeg fire expert Brad Loewen has been appointed chief safety inspector for Bangladesh's garment industry, which has been trying to rebuild in the wake of a deadly factory collapse in April. 1:49

A Winnipeg fire expert has a new job in Bangladesh.

Brad Loewen is the new chief safety inspector in charge of cleaning up that South Asian country's garment industry.

He was appointed by a consortium of retailers, international unions and watchdog groups who signed an accord to improve fire and building safety.

Aswad Composite Mills, the scene of a deadly fire in Bangladesh on Oct. 8, is not covered by either of the two international agreements on workplace safety in Bangladesh, because the company does not deal directly with the international brands. (Associated Press)

The accord was signed in the wake of a deadly factory collapse in April. More than 1,100 garment workers were killed when the Rana Plaza, an eight-storey commercial building, came crashing down.

Fires in garment factories in that country have also claimed hundreds of lives in recent years.

Loewen, who moves to Bangladesh in December, said immediate changes must be made. Dangerous working conditions remain widespread in the garment industry, a recent investigation by CBC's the fifth estate has found.

"The problem is so enormous that any small inroads one can make into it can have a huge impact in saving lives," he said.

Loewen will be in charge of hiring inspectors to improve safety in the garment industry.

Exiting and getting people out of there safely when there is an incident is, of course, primary to any life safety — building concerns being secondary [to that]," he said.

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