Professor Peter Hasle

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Dear colleagues,

I would like to express my gratitude for being a part of this workshop and be given the opportunity to engage in dialog on the opportunities for simultaneously improving occupational health and safety (OHS) and productivity in the Bangladeshi garment industry.

Recent years Bangladeshi suppliers have attracted media attention in the western press and globally there is an awareness that Bangladesh is at a cross-road. I believe that there is a promising future for the Bangladeshi garment industry but it requires significant changes in managerial practices if the industry has to remain a competitive destination for global brands.

I am, however, happy to convey the message that extensive international research on suppliers in developing countries reveals that suppliers can manage this process and harvest synergies between OHS and productivity. A crucial tool in supporting this transformation is Lean. The research shows that Lean is a crucial managerial approach that if successfully used can help sustain the companies’ competitiveness.

In collaborations with my esteemed colleagues at AUST and generously financed by DANIDA, we are undertaking an investigation on how operations management including Lean tools can be transformed and used in the context of the Bangladeshi garment so that this transformation can be successful.

We have already been underway with the project for a while and visited more than 40 companies. We are now analyzing the data we have collected. After the data collection we’ll start undertaking improvements in 12 selected companies in Bangladesh and we are convinced that we will find highly useful recipes for how to simultaneously improve OHS and productivity.