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Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2022

Occupational safety and health are some of the issues that should be addressed if the potential of the global supply chain is to be harnessed. Globalization has created the need for companies to leverage the sourcing and selling of goods and materials internationally as a way of remaining competitive in the global markets. Despite being interconnected, international trade is fragmented with various markets and economies operating in autonomous geographic regions with different laws and policies governing occupational safety and health. This aspect creates a major problem in ensuring that workplaces are safe for employees. This paper discusses some of the measures that could be implemented to overcome the barriers to improving worker safety in global supply chains, especially in developing countries.

The first step is to identify and understand the level of health and safety vulnerability in developing countries. This aspect allows companies to come up with the appropriate strategies to address all the underlying issues exacerbating this problem in the affected regions. Second, international companies operating or sourcing materials from developing countries should adopt occupational health and safety management systems, such as ISO 45001. According to Cooper (2014), ISO 45001 is a draft global standard on worker safety aiming to “create this necessary foundation of worker safety and factory integrity standards that can be accepted by all global supply chains, for use in all industries, covering all contractors and subcontractors, in all countries supplying products into these supply chains” (p. 32). Currently, 43 countries and over 90 organizations are participants in this effort, and thus all developing regions should be part of it for the safety and health of workers.

Third, suppliers should improve their management capabilities to prevent risks and ensure performance. Some of the strategies that could be adopted include training and educating suppliers and employees on safety measures and making it part of corporate policy for companies to observe safe working places. Fourth, companies should implement purchaser procurement policies, which “allow purchasers in powerful market positions to influence improvement in health and safety management among suppliers (Ustailieva et al., 2012, p. 22). As such, health and safety standards should be used as the basis for selecting suppliers in the international market. Additionally, there should be clear policies requiring suppliers to have management systems or codes of conduct and sign declarations for compliance with the set international standards on top of conducting annual self-assessment, auditing, monitoring, inspections, and training.

In addition, international framework agreements (IFAs), which are commonly known as global framework agreements (GFAs), could play a major role in ensuring the safety of workers in the global supply chain. According to Ustailieva et al. (2012), GFAs are transnational agreements “negotiated between multinational companies and global union federations” (p. 27). These agreements ensure that suppliers are compliant with the set operation standards regarding safety and health in the workplace. Similarly, industries could collaborate to address pertinent issues surrounding supply chain objectives and safety.

The global supply chain is sophisticated given the number of players involved and the diversity of the covered geographical areas. However, any safety challenges could be addressed by ensuring that the affected international companies collaborate with their suppliers to promote safe and healthy workplaces. The adoption of occupational health and safety management systems would cover all the major areas and overcome major barriers to addressing this problem.

References

Cooper, S. (2014). Improving worker safety in global supply chains: the case for a global safety & health management standard. Vantage Point, 29-33.

Ustailieva, E., Eeckelaert, L., Nunes, I., & Hauke, A. (2012). P. European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

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IvyPanda. (2022, June 15). Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains. https://ivypanda.com/essays/improving-worker-safety-in-global-supply-chains/

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"Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains." IvyPanda, 15 June 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/improving-worker-safety-in-global-supply-chains/.

1. IvyPanda. "Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/improving-worker-safety-in-global-supply-chains/.


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IvyPanda. "Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/improving-worker-safety-in-global-supply-chains/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains." June 15, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/improving-worker-safety-in-global-supply-chains/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Improving Worker Safety in Global Supply Chains'. 15 June.

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