The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has partnered with the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) to publish new guidance material for members on how to implement occupational health and safety measures to protect garment workers during Covid-19.
“The area of occupational health and safety is complex and the situation around Covid-19 has added significantly to this complexity. Factories find themselves in a challenging situation where, coming out of a full or partial lockdown, they now need to stay operational and navigate a new set of health and safety measures,” the ETI says in a blog post.
“Central to all this are the garment workers, rightfully worried about their livelihood and personal safety, and required to return to the factories as production starts up again. Keeping workers in the garment industry safe is a major concern and must be top priority.”
For brands there is a clear expectation to follow up closely with their suppliers, support them on health and safety, and ensure sufficient measures are implemented to protect them. To assist them in the dialogue with their suppliers, ETI and FWF, which works towards better labour conditions in the garment industry, have developed a checklist accompanied by a comprehensive discussion sheet.
The documents aim to provide practical advice on how to address health and safety issues with factories, as well as background and inspiration for additional measures.
“While the regulations imposed by local health authorities and governments always will constitute the minimum requirements, we aim to support brands with the complete array of health and safety measures a garment factory could consider, stressing the importance of strong social dialogue, local stakeholder involvement, and effective grievance as an integrated part of this process,” the ETI says, adding the recommendations must only be applied if in accordance with the regulations provided by local health authorities and governments.
Designed to be used in conjunction with the discussion sheet – which provides further explanation on each topic – the checklist covers general factory measures, personal measures for each worker, social dialogue, grievance and remediation, and steps for preparing the factory.
It also includes guidance on preparing the work floor, for both during and after working hours, transportation and how to deal with workers in quarantine.
The guidance follows a briefing note issued by the ETI last month for the employers of migrant workers during Covid-19, offering advice on key actions.
The ETI has also recently partnered with FWF on the STITCH (Sustainable Textile Initiative: Together for Change) initiative, which is working towards fair prices and decent wages for garment workers and has received backing from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Click here to access both the checklist and discussion sheet.