Environmental Management & Compliance (# 83)
Industrial Hygiene an Important Focus for Large Supply Chains
By Jas Singh, Jas Singh, Kamuela, Hawaii, USA
Attention is increasingly being directed at how large transnational corporations with extensive global supply chains are addressing workers’ health and safety issues.
Regulations in many parts of the developing world have been improving to some degree for many manufacturing facilities. However, factory reports from non-governmental organisations (NGO) and others indicate there continues to be uneven, marginal progress in occupational health and safety programs at supply chain companies.
The emergence of civil society and workers themselves as more active environmental watchdogs is catching many companies by surprise and is generating significant risks to business. For example, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE) in China now has a website with a “blacklist” database of foreign companies that have received enforcement notices from environmental regulatory authorities in China. Several of our clients have engaged Golder to help them improve environmental health and safety and management to demonstrate responsible supply chain stewardship.
These companies can be susceptible to media and social network coverage that can do damage to corporate reputations. IPE has started conducting campaigns to call attention to environmental impacts to workers and the surrounding communities in various supply chains in China.
What is becoming more evident is that traditional corporate approaches of ensuring compliance with regulations are insufficient in managing risks to their reputation.
A more proactive approach involves effective assessment of industrial hygiene concerns related to exposure of workers to chemical and physical agents including noise and vibration, radiation, heat stress, ventilation, proper lighting, personal protective equipment, and other safety precautions and evacuation procedures throughout the business, including supply chains. Setting up consultation and engagement programs with communities and NGOs is also becoming more necessary.
Many companies, as part of their corporate social responsibility program, are recognising that informed workers can make essential contributions to effective plant occupational health and safety programs as part of a comprehensive, integrated approach.