Daily Archives: July 8, 2007

JLP Responsible Sourcing Part IV: Health, Safety, and Hygiene

In our last post, we discussed forced labour and the issues it entails, corresponding to section C of the report.

In today’s post, we cover section D of The John Lewis Partnership‘s Responsible Sourcing Supplier Workbook which tackles health, safety, and hygiene issues.

Health and safety includes fire safety, machine and chemical usage, protective equipment, sanitary facilities, adequate first aid, and health and safety training.

Key problems include:

  • varying perceptions of what is safe and what is hazardous
  • lack of information about the risks and hazards
  • health and safety conditions are likely to be worse in subcontractor facilities

These problems are significant. JLP’s research has determined that:

  • more fatalities have occurred in the workplace than during war-time: almost 270 million accidents are recorded yearly, of which 2.2 million are fatal
  • over 208 million workers suffer from work related diseases
  • in China alone, the cost of occupational illnesses and work-related injuries is 100 Billion Yuan in direct losses, with indirect losses estimated to be double that, and 727,945 work-related accidents, including 126,760 work-related deaths, were reported in 2005 with an unknown number going unreported
  • in Africa, HIV prevents approximately 2 million people from going to work at any given moment, and this number is expected to double by 2015
  • this is an area where more than 60% of all non-compliances tend to occur during social audits, despite being one of the simplest to tackle and most heavily regulated

These, and other problems, are addressed by the JLP code which states:

  • a clean, safe, and healthy workplace in compliance with all applicable laws will be maintained
  • employers must take adequate steps to prevent accidents and injuries
  • health and safety risk assessments must be carried out regularly
  • regular health and safety training is to be provided to all workers
  • appropriate personal protective equipment is to be provided, free of charge, to all workers
  • workers shall be provided with access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities at all time
  • on-site accommodations will be clean, safe, secure, and meet all basic needs
  • transport will meet national legal standards and minimize risks to the workforce
  • in geographically isolated areas, an employer will provide support services, including schooling, medical and health facilities, and recreational facilities
  • any food, beverages, and goods offered for sale by an employer must not cost more than average local costs

In order to insure that you comply with all regulations and provide a healthy, safe, and hygienic workplace, you should, at a minimum:

  • conduct regular risk assessments on your production sites (at least annually)
  • promptly identify any-and-all risks and take immediate actions to minimize, and if possible, remove these risks
  • provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment free of charge and insure that they wear it at all time in hazardous areas
  • insure that all workers receive regular health and safety training appropriate to their jobs
  • insure the site contains sufficient fire exits and that these are clearly marked
  • insure all production areas have sufficient fire-fighting equipment
  • insure all workers who work with hazardous materials receive regular medical check-ups
  • have a formal, documented, health and safety policy
  • have clear procedures on what to do in the event of an emergency
  • insure there are a sufficient number of properly equipped first aid boxes readily available on the production site
  • insure a sufficient number of your staff are properly trained in first aid
  • clearly document safe usage instructions, in the workers’ native language, for all machinery
  • guard all dangerous parts of machinery and maintain them regularly
  • adhere to all the guidelines of the JLP code

The workbook also contains a methodology for conducting a proper risk assessment, an overview of what constitutes an effective training session, a process for setting up a health and safety committee, and tips on how to handle the issues surrounding the use of hazardous chemicals.

In our next post, we’ll tackle the fourth major issue addressed by the workbook, the issue of discipline. (You can access all of the posts in the series (to-date) by selecting the JLP category at any time.)