The problem children are the many, many factories that have mushroomed in and around Dhaka that rent space in facilities where they have no business being: shopping malls or office buildings that aren't equipped to handle the heavy machinery the trade requires.
Until now, the government has turned a blind eye to the problem. After all, the factories were boosting employment -- even if they were doing so in spaces crammed to the hilt with workers with zero safety regulations.
Since 2005, almost 2,000 garment workers have been killed in factory fires and structure collapse. And all of them have been at such small, unregulated factories.
These facilities don't directly deal with Western clothiers.
When a company in the United States places an order, it does so with a large or a medium-sized factory that most likely lives up to the company's standards for a decent wage and working conditions.
But, just like a contractor working on your home will farm out parts of the job to others, these factories sometimes do the same -- to smaller, fly-by-night operations.
And with business booming, with a greater demand for goods and with the need to keep costs down so the consumers in the West can continue to purchase cheap shirts, such passing-of-the-buck has become more commonplace.
But the Rana Plaza disaster may change all that.
The shopping mall in the Dhaka suburb of Savar was built on swampland, with the owner adding four more floors to what was once a five-story structure, officials said. It housed five garment factories and generators on the fourth floor to keep them buzzing.
It collapsed April 24, killing more than 1,100 and ranking as the deadliest industrial disaster in the country.
The outrage over the disaster reached such a fever pitch that the government said it will form a committee to raise the minimum wage of garment workers. The Cabinet also approved the draft of a law that will allow workers to unionize and force factories to offer life insurance.
For its part, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturing and Export Association said it too is taking additional steps.
Until now, it had standards for workplace safety but not for the structural safety of a building.
"Before this Rana Plaza incident, BGMEA did not have the technical know-how people to check the structural design. We didn't have any civil engineers," said Reza Bin Mahmood, vice president with the association.
Those inspections have now begun. But with more than 4,500 factories, the task is daunting.
"It's not an easy job. And we cannot finish it by overnight," he said, urging that the factories be improved and updated with money from retailers.
Spurred to action
Some international retailers are doing just that. More than a dozen European clothiers signed on to a plan to help prevent fire and building collapses in Bangladesh.
The five-year plan calls for independent safety inspections and for companies to publicly report the findings. It also requires retailers to help finance fire safety and building improvements in factories with which they work.
Companies who sign on will have to terminate business with any factory that refuses to make necessary safety upgrades.
But many U.S. retailers, including Wal-Mart, have not signed on.
Wal-Mart said it will perform its own inspections and provide every worker with fire safety.
Over at Lakhsmi, the changes for the industry are welcome ones. Here, workers are assigned as fire wardens and extinguishers hang on the walls on each floor.