The Life and Building Safety Initiative aims to improve worker safety in the apparel and footwear industry by effectively identifying and remediating the most pressing risks related to fire, electrical, and structural building safety and evacuation. LABS Initiative does this through developing a single country based, coherent and consistent life-safety program to assess factories and provide a framework for monitoring and ensuring mitigation and remediation.
Under LABS Initiative, in addition to applicable country laws, factories commit to adhering to a harmonized, country level standard around fire, electrical and building safety. To bring this about, together with technical experts and local stakeholders, LABS is working on the following:
For effective monitoring of the program’s progress, LABS Initiative is working with Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC). Together with FFC, LABS Initiative is creating a database to support the onboarding of and service provision to factories, as well as monitor progress and gather the information for public reporting.
These plans guide the remediation in the instances where the measures in place fall short. The plans identify areas of mitigation, which are supported by the program and monitored via an IT platform for consistent follow-up. The program will actively monitor the factories’ needs in order to facilitate their efforts to implement CAPs.
Engagement with local government bodies regarding public sector ownership of building safety is critical for long-term solutions. Therefore, National Stakeholder Committees are being established. These NSCs will address education, public policy and enforcement.
In terms of capacity building within factories, LABS trains staff members and key safety personnel to build up their skills around flagging safety issues, evacuation, and create additional awareness around structural, electrical, and fire safety proficiency.
Workers should be able to raise their concerns on unsafe working conditions. LABS recognizes this and aims to enable an environment to speak out. Therefore we have launched a helpline in Vietnam and India for the factories associated with the program in both countries. The helpline provides an opportunity to directly report issues related to fire, electrical and structural safety issues in their workplace.