Industrial zones especially seven labour-intensive ones have been brought under strict monitoring to ensure health and safety measures following a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, officials said.
The labour ministry in a virtual meeting held on Monday instructed Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), Department of Labour (DoL) and 23 crisis-management committees to strengthen their vigilance across the country, they added.
The seven industrial zones have been given priority as they are labour-intensive, they said, adding that the areas included Dhaka, Gazipur, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Chattogram, Khulna and Mymensingh.
The government formed the 23 committees comprising DIFE field-level officials, factory owners and workers' representatives in April last year to monitor workers' safety and labour situation amid the Covid-19 outbreak, they noted.
When asked, labour secretary KM Abdus Salam told the FE that they have instructed DIFE, DoL and the 23 crisis management teams to be more vigilant regarding the implementation of health and safety measures across the country.
"Some industrial belts have been given priority, considering the density of workers," he added.
The authority has been asked to strengthen monitoring after the government has issued a new set of lockdown rules, allowing the factories including textile and readymade garment (RMG) units to remain open during the weeklong lockdown effective from the morning of April 14, ministry officials said.
State minister for labour and employment Begum Monnujan Sufian in the meeting asked factory owners to ensure safety measures strictly for their workers at the factories during the upcoming lockdown.
RMG sector leaders explained safety measures maintained by the factories, meeting sources said.
On the other hand, labour leaders placed a set of demands including transportation for RMG workers, shifting duty, maintaining social distance and financial support for transport workers, they added.
When asked, Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, a director at Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), said they have already reinstructed their member factories to strictly maintain the health and safety guidelines.
The trade body would take stern action against those which would violate safety measures, he warned.
"If needed, we will shut the factory which will fail to strictly maintain safety measures as the whole industry cannot suffer for the failure of a factory," he added.
According to the Industrial Police data, more than 7,500 factories are located in its six industrial zones except Dhaka metropolitan area.