Do code of conduct audits improve chemical safety in garment factories? Lessons on corporate social responsibility in the supply chain from Fair Wear Foundation

In managing chemical risks to the environment and human health in supply chains, voluntary corporate social responsibility (CSR) measures, such as auditing code of conduct compliance, play an important role. To examine how well suppliers’ chemical health and safety performance complies with buyers’ CSR policies and whether audited factories improve their performance. CSR audits (n = 288) of garment factories conducted by Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), an independent non-profit organisation, were analysed using descriptive statistics and statistical modelling. Forty-three per cent of factories did not comply with the FWF code of conduct, i.e. received remarks on chemical safety. Only among factories audited 10 or more times was there a significant increase in the number of factories receiving no remarks. The authors concluded that compliance with chemical safety requirements in garment supply chains is low and auditing is statistically correlated with improvements only at factories that have undergone numerous audits.

Authors: Lindholm H, Egels-Zandén N, Rudén C. ;Full Source: International Journal of Occupational & Environmental Health. 2016 Sep 9:1-9. [Epub ahead of print] ;