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

Suprema Manufacturing S.A.

The WRC’s assessment at Suprema Manufacturing found violations in the areas of wages and hours, freedom of association, and discrimination of pregnant workers in the hiring process. Read More: WRC Factory Assessment re: Suprema – January 24, 2020

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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.

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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…

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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.

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New Era Cap Company

The complaint alleged that New Era failed to comply with WRC and university Codes of Conduct, and with applicable labor and employment laws, in three general areas: health and safety, age and disability discrimination, and freedom of association and collective bargaining.

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MAA Garment and Textiles, Kebire Enterprises

Based in the northern Tigray province in the town of Mekelle, MAA Garment and Textiles (“MAA”) employed 1600 employees as of 2016. As one of Ethiopia’s 17 vertically integrated factories, the Ethiopian-owned facility has the capacity to weave and spin cotton products as well as assemble (cut, make, and trim) garments. Its output includes trousers,…

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Arvind Lifestyle Apparel Manufacturing

Arvind Lifestyle Apparel Manufacturing Plc., located in the Bole Lemi Industrial Park, is one of two textile and apparel factories in Ethiopia owned by the Indian multinational Arvind Lifestyle Apparel. The facility’s buyers include The Children’s Place, PVH, H&M, and Gerber Children’s Wear. The plant primarily manufactures jeans, trousers, and shirts. (A second Arvind facility…

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Jay Jay Textiles

Jay Jay Textiles (“Jay Jay”) is located in the Bole Lemi Industrial Park (Phase I). Occupying some 27,500 square meters, the Indian-owned factory is one of the largest facilities in the zone. Specializing in children’s apparel, the facility manufactures apparel goods for Gerber Children’s Wear, The Children’s Place, The William Carter Company, and H&M. The…

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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.

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Genesis Apparel

In 2015, the WRC undertook a comprehensive investigation of labor practices at Genesis Apparel, which included offsite interviews with employees and an onsite inspection that was conducted in June 2015. The WRC’s assessment identified a number of violations of Honduran law and university codes of conduct, including noncompliance in the areas of wages and hours…

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