Another garment factory disaster has killed dozens in Bangladesh, but this tragedy might have been avoided if employers had not ignored warning signs that the building was in trouble. An eight-story building in the city of Savar collapsed on Wednesday morning, killing at least 87 people and trapping many more inside the massive pile of rubble. More than 700 others are reported to be injured.
On Tuesday, workers at the factory noticed that large cracks had begun to develop in the building's structure. The cracks were so severe that they were even reported on the local news. When workers returned on Wednesday morning they were hesitant to return, but they say they were ordered back into the building by managers who assured them the building was safe. Only an hour into the morning shift, the upper floors collapsed without warning. At any given time, as many as 2,000 people work in the building, which holds five separate garment companies working on a 24-hour schedule.
It was just last November that 112 workers were killed in a deadly fire a similar factory. Bangladesh is home to thousands of garment factories that supply inexpensive goods to major U.S. retailers, like Wal-Mart. (One of the companies in the building that collapsed today is a Wal-Mart supplier.) The industry is also rife with safety violations, poorly constructed workplaces, and illegal outlets that violate the already lax regulations on hours, pay, and workers safety. Many of the deaths in the November fire occurred because employees were locked inside the building, in a painful repeat of other notorious workplace tragedies.