Students, Convocation

Convocation 2017: Bangladesh research, co-op readies MA student Kirk Hepburn for career

June 08, 2017

Has the health and safety of factory workers in Bangladesh’s garment industry improved since a factory building collapsed in 2013, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring a further 2,500?

Not quite, according to research from SFU Master of Public Policy student Kirk Hepburn, who graduates on June 8.

The collapse spurred European brands and trade unions to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. The five-year agreement details six components for restoring credibility to the country’s regulatory environment while also creating a safer ready-made garment industry for workers.

After analyzing inspection reports and conducting interviews, Hepburn found—at the four-year mark—that while most electrical and fire issues have been corrected, factories are lagging behind significantly on structural issues, which were blamed for the 2013 collapse.