Workplace Health and Safety

Photo of workers hand protected by metal glove. Photo by ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Photo by ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Despite the existence of national and international laws that protect workers’ right to safe and healthy working environments, factory conditions remain unsafe across the garment industry. Some factories lack proper safety equipment for workers or expose them to hazardous chemicals. Others have unsafe electrical wiring, which increases the risk of fire—a danger often compounded by a lack adequate alarm systems and escape routes. And some factories, particularly in Bangladesh and across South Asia, are structurally unsound, which increases the risk of a building collapse like the one at Rana Plaza in 2013, which killed 1,137 workers.

Ensuring that factories have safe working conditions has always been part of the WRC’s investigative process. The WRC investigates worker reports of safety violations, from overheated factory floors to a lack of sprinkler systems, and presses brands and factory owners to ensure these violations are corrected.

The Bangladesh Accord

The WRC had been urging multinational apparel brands to improve health and safety in Bangladesh garment factories for years when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013. Following that tragedy, the WRC helped lead the creation of The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the first modern legally-binding commitment that requires brands to allow independent inspections of their supplier factories and to pay for crucial safety repairs. Over 2.5 million workers in 1,600 factories are covered by the Accord.

Thanks to the Accord, more than 100,000 safety repairs have been made at hundreds of factories across Bangladesh—and at least 50 extremely unsafe factories were evacuated, any one of which could have been the next Rana Plaza.

The WRC continues to provide strategic and logistical support in implementing and enforcing the Accord through our role as a witness signatory on the Accord Steering Committee, and through support to our labor and NGO allies.

Related Factory Investigations

Delta Apparel Honduras

The WRC investigated a complaint filed by workers at Delta Apparel Honduras (DAH), and found that the practices of DAH violated Honduran law and university codes of conduct in the areas of wages and hours of work, legally mandated benefits, health care, harassment and abuse, gender discrimination, freedom of association, and occupational health and safety.

Read More...

League Central America

The WRC conducted an assessment of compliance with labor rights standards at League Central America (LCA), a garment factory located El Salvador that is owned and operated by the U.S. apparel brand known as League Collegiate Wear, Inc.  The assessment found violations of Salvadoran law in the following areas: Wages and Hours of Work. The WRC…

Read More...

SMC

The WRC’s assessment at SMC found violations in the areas of wages and hours, statutory paid time off, maternity benefits and occupational health and safety.

Read More...

Hansae Vietnam

The Hansae Vietnam factory has been the subject of in-depth investigation and reporting concerning labor rights issues and engagement with Nike and Hansae on their remediation, by both the WRC and the FLA, for the past two years.

Read More...

Gildan Villanueva

The WRC’s investigative work at Gildan Villanueva began after a complaint was filed by several of the factory’s employees stating that they had been fired in May 2013 in retaliation for their efforts to seek assistance from a local, non-governmental organization in order to improve working conditions at the facility. The workers alleged that supervisors openly expressed hostility towards the workers who met with the organization for their participation in protected, concerted activities, and that many of them were subsequently fired as a result of their participation in these efforts.

Read More...

Tex-Ray Swaziland PTY Ltd.

Read More: WRC Memo re Tex-Ray (Swaziland) – February 27, 2015

Read More...

INDEX

The WRC conducted a general assessment of labor rights compliance at INDEX, an apparel manufacturing facility in Honduras that is owned and operated by the company Grupo Beta. At the time that the WRC undertook the investigation, the factory was disclosed as a supplier of collegiate apparel by adidas, Hanesbrands, Inc. (under the Champion and Gear for Sports brands), Knights Apparel (acquired in February 2015 by Hanesbrands), Under Armour (under the Under Armour by Gear for Sports brand), VF (under the Majestic and Jansport brands), and 289C Apparel.

Read More...

Style Avenue S.A.

Style Avenue was found to have multiple and repeated labor rights violations, including forced overtime, illegal terminations, verbal abuse by management, failure to respect freedom of association, locking workers in the factory, excessive heat, and unsanitary conditions.

Read More...

Thai Garment Export 5

Read more: WRC Assessment Thai Garment Export 5 (Thailand) – April 3, 2015

Read More...

Optimum Fashion Wear

The WRC, with a leading fire safety engineering firm, Hughes Associates Europe, inspected Optimum Fashion, a factory producing collegiate goods for VF Corporation. This investigation identified numerous serious fire safety hazards at this facility, including inadequate means for workers to escape the factory in the event of a fire, insufficient emergency lighting, structural flaws that…

Read More...