The Rana Plaza Collapse, also known as the 2013 Savar Building Collapse, was a structural failure that occurred in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013. An eight-story building collapsed, killing 1,134 people and injuring about 2,500. The casualties in this incident were mainly textile workers and their associates. Cracks in the building were discovered the day before it collapsed, prompting people to evacuate shops and banks. However, the building’s owner insisted it was safe, and the textile workers were ordered back to work the day it collapsed.

Rana Plaza Collapse is the worst structural collapse in modern human history and the worst garment factory accident. 

Structural failure: 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse - Sheet1
Rescuers work at the collapsed Rana Plaza complex in the Greater Dhaka district of Savar_©Zuma-Rex Features

Bangladesh has around 4,000 garment factories that export garments to major western retailers and industry leaders, significantly influencing the South Asian country. Its apparel industry was the world’s third-largest in 2011, behind China and Italy. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association estimates that the industry is worth US$20 billion annually and accounts for 80% of Bangladesh’s total exports. Dhaka has emerged as one of the world’s most populous and fastest-growing megacities, driving up land prices and straining the country’s power, electricity, and gas systems. Bangladesh’s land scarcity and flood-prone nature have led many factory owners to build rather than shut down. Additional floors are often added hastily, regardless of building codes or permits. With the high cost of land and limited access to utilities, unable to afford new buildings, many factory owners are building hundreds of homes to meet demand from western retailers. And other buildings into makeshift textile factories.

What Was the Cause of the Rana Plaza Collapse? | The Rana Plaza Collapse

A series of technical and administrative errors caused the final disaster at Rana Plaza Garment Factory in Bangladesh. Experts have since concluded that the collapse of the garment factory was “totally avoidable”.

Parts of the building were built without proper city permits. The 5th to 8th floors were added to the building without load-bearing walls. The garment factory’s heavy equipment was more than its structure could sustain. The foundation was weak and was built in a swamp. As the crack deepened, the building was doomed to collapse.

These failures account for building collapses but are failures to respond to known hazards that have caused associated casualties. Textile workers were forced to return to the building, but banks and shops on the lower floors remained evacuated due to the danger of cracks discovered the day before. Garment factory management was as aware of the risks as banks and merchants.

Structural failure: 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse - Sheet2
Global trade unions called the collapse ‘mass industrial homicide’, while Vogue magazine described it as ‘tragedy on an epic scale’_©Andrew Biraj-Reuters

Design Error

Design errors are not limited to errors in design drawings and calculations. It also includes failing to account for proper static loading of the building, using incorrect theory, relying on inaccurate data and information, failing to consider the effects of natural stresses, and improperly selecting materials and products. It may be related.

Buildings must be designed for specific loads. Loads include the weight of people and objects and the pressure of rain, snow, and wind on a building. These are collectively called payloads. Self-weight is the building itself. The collapse of a building due to a design error may be due to miscalculations or details in the plans, such as structural and architectural drawings, or not considering the entire building. Lack of proper recommendations, including proper soil sampling, survey, and compaction. The use of laboratory-tested building materials and the lack of use of quality control and quality assurance processes.

Poor Construction Workmanship | The Rana Plaza Collapse

Poor construction or construction is a major cause of damage to structures and buildings. This includes using salty sand to make concrete, using substandard steel or insufficient amounts of rebar, poor riveting, improperly torqued nuts, improper welding, and Others, including poor construction practices. An inexperienced field engineer’s observation of the construction process  may result in a collapse. Lack of adequate construction experience and supervision; lack of inspection and use of substandard building materials.

Extraordinary Loads

Exceptional loads are often weather-related. For example, heavy snow from a blizzard, shaking from an earthquake, and wind and rain from a hurricane. A building designed and constructed with the exceptional stresses of a site or area in mind must withstand the challenges of stress.

Time and Cost Restrictions

Overcommitment and constraints by builders focused on saving time and reducing construction costs have also reduced building quality. Budget constraints and shortening project schedules beyond reasonable time usually compromise the quality of construction and the choice of materials used. The choice of critical construction materials can certainly reduce the building’s characteristic strength and response to internal and external loads. These decisions may eventually lead to collapse, perhaps over time rather than immediately.

Professional Ethics and Regulatory Compliance | The Rana Plaza Collapse

Failure of project teams involved in day-to-day construction work to follow proper professional ethics concerning construction practices, discipline, and adherence to standards contributes to professional negligence and poor construction. These practices can easily lead to building damage or collapse during construction or after project completion. Failures of political officials, regulators, and local authorities responsible for inspecting construction sites contribute to building collapse by not following or circumventing established construction and permitting processes. Instead, it appears to be one of the main causes of the collapse of Rana Plaza.

Monument to the 1,134 people killed in the collapse_©Tansy Hoskins

In Bangladesh, steps have also been taken to introduce a national system for occupational accidents based on the principles of Convention No. 121 and mutual agreement on the system’s core elements. The operation of an Employment Injury Insurance (EII) scheme is inevitably time-consuming, at most two to three years. Until the EII system is up and running and we can collect contributions and pay out benefits, Having a good backup solution is essential. A place that provides adequate medical care and compensation to victims temporarily in an efficient and diligent manner.


(2017) The Rana Plaza Accident and its aftermath. Available at:–en/index.htm (Accessed: December 2, 2022). 

Admin (2019) Bangladesh and reasons buildings collapse – erma: Enterprise risk management academy, ERMA | Enterprise Risk Management Academy. Available at: (Accessed: December 2, 2022). 

Collapse at Rana Plaza (2018) Ethics Unwrapped. Available at: (Accessed: December 2, 2022). 

Goodwin, J. (2021) The Rana Plaza Collapse: What Happened & What it means for fashion, Grow Ensemble. Available at: (Accessed: December 2, 2022). 

Rana Plaza building collapse, April 2013 (no date) Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Available at: (Accessed: December 2, 2022). 


Abha has completed her architecture from mumbai. She is passionate about designing and has a creative mind. She also fond of binging series and movies.