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Unsafe Working Environments In The IT Industry Risk People’s Health

Unsafe Working Environments In The IT Industry Risk People’s Health
11 February 2020
 

Problematic factory conditions, including excessive working hours, forced labour and discrimination continue to risk workers’ health in the IT industry, according to a TCO Development report.

In the 20 factories that were audited, 109 non-conformities related to factory conditions were found initially. These spanned health and safety (51 incidents), labour rights (54 incidents) and code of conduct communication (4 incidents). After initial corrective action plans, 77% of these were eliminated, and of the 25 left, seven were categorised as minor and 18 were major.  

A major non-conformity is defined as “significant failure, affecting the system’s ability to produce the desired results.” in the report entitled "Impacts and Insights 2019".

 

Growing pressure on industry

 

The findings are based on reports from independent verifiers, interviews with brand owner senior management representatives and independent factory audits. Improvements affected the working conditions of approximately 46,600 workers.

It seems that achieving a more socially sustainable industry requires long term investments, follow-up and clear consequences that encourage action. This can be challenging in such a fast-moving industry, as the report states:

“Much of IT product manufacturing is carried out in low-cost, low-wage countries, where workers are often less protected and employment less regulated. Shorter product cycles and growing demand for new technologies place added pressure on industry to deliver new devices faster and at a lower cost. The result can be poor working conditions throughout the supply chain, putting human health and worker safety at risk.”

“Real change demands engagement from the brand owner. We put pressure on the IT industry and can withdraw certificates and restrict factories from manufacturing certified products if the criteria in TCO Certified aren’t fulfilled”

–Sören Enholm

CEO, TCO Development

 

Procurement must drive industry improvements

 

More and more, those responsible for IT procurement are using their leverage to directly drive industry improvements in supply chain responsibility, supported by the manufacturing criteria in TCO Certified

“Succeeding with sustainable procurement of IT products is a challenge.” says Helena Babelon, Head of IT Sustainability & Continuous Improvement at Electrolux Group.

“Independent verification of compliance is crucial for a credible result. We’ve decided to use TCO Certified, it makes the procurement process much more efficient and helps us set criteria in a straightforward way,”

The report presents a number of solutions to solving sustainability issues in the IT industry. An independent party must audit factories, effective corrective action plans must be implemented and to avoid the recurrence of problems, and root causes must be found. TCO Development believe that truly sustainable and workable change must come from the top:

“Real change demands engagement from the brand owner. We put pressure on the IT industry and can withdraw certificates and restrict factories from manufacturing certified products if the criteria in TCO Certified aren’t fulfilled,” says Sören Enholm, CEO at TCO Development.

 

You can read the full report here

 

Picture: Unsafe Working Environments In The IT Industry Risk People’s Health

 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 11 February 2020

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