First garment factories declared safe in Bangladesh

More than 1,100 people were killed in the Rana Plaza building collapse on the outskirts of Dhaka in 2013 (AFP Photo/Munir Uz Zaman)

Dhaka (AFP) - Two garment factories in Bangladesh on Thursday became the first to be declared safe under a scheme set up to prevent a repeat of one of the world's worst industrial disasters.

The owners of the plants on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka have implemented all the measures needed to make them safe for workers, according to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

The Accord is a grouping of around 200 European retailers including H&M, Primark and Tesco that got together to try to improve safety after the collapse of the Rana Plaza in 2013.

The grouping's chief safety inspector Brad Loewen said the declaration was a milestone for Bangladesh's $25 billion garment industry.

But unions in Bangladesh say it is taking too long to make the country's thousands of garment factories safe for workers.

It is more than two years since the Rana Plaza -- a nine-storey garment factory -- collapsed due to shoddy structure, leaving at least 1,138 people dead.

The disaster triggered international outrage and put pressure on the Western brands using the factory to improve the woeful pay and conditions of Bangladesh's garment workers.

Some 2,500 factories have been inspected since the tragedy, but global labour group IndustriALL said last month that safety upgrades were running behind schedule and none were considered "100 percent safe".