Introduction

Our annual report provides an important opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made towards the program goals, exploring the successes and challenges, and sharing the learnings in the process.

The goal of this report is twofold; as we approach the end of the second full year of LABS operations, we aim to present an introduction to our approach and methodology followed by program achievements and our learnings to date.

Since launching, LABS reached over 564,750 workers in India and Vietnam to provide safer working conditions and collaborated with factories to remediate pressing safety issues. As of December 2021, approximately 63% of the issues identified across 265 factories in both countries were remediated because of LABS’ intervention.

We invite you to read the report and explore how Life and Building Safety Initiative is making a difference towards promoting safer working conditions for the workers in textile industry.



Program Achievements: 28 Months Since Inception

achievements

What are our stakeholders saying



Covid-19 Impact

Worldwide, COVID-19 devastated communities and economies, affecting people differently; people in the apparel value chain were hit particularly hard, experiencing severe economic consequences.

For the majority of 2020 and 2021, factories in India and Vietnam remained fully closed or semi-operational. They faced uncertainties and challenges, including reductions in future orders and workers losing their jobs amidst factory lockdown and store closures. We saw the direct impact and implication of the pandemic on the progress and outreach of the LABS program; brand onboarding continues to be challenging. However, the program continues to model and advocate that LABS is a “must have” and not a “nice to have” and sits at the apex of priorities concerning worker safety.


Program Stakeholders

National Stakeholder Committees

The National Stakeholder Committee (NSC) guides monitoring and institutionalizing the program at the country level. The NSC helps identify and address challenges and opportunities while promoting the importance of safety for workers and guides LABS towards working with the local government towards a harmonized, standard adaptation and incorporation into legislative policy and framework.


Experts

LABS engages with local stakeholders like ILO, multi-stakeholder initiatives, industry associations, CSOs, governments, and institutes to create better safety policies and provisions. These partnerships focus on raising standards, developing ideas, and tackling challenges.


Brand Participants

LABS Brand Participants are a group of global apparel brands and retailers who work towards creating safer working conditions in the industry in a collaborative way; they accelerate and monitor remediation by supporting and collaborating with the sourcing factories.


Associated firms


Inspection Firms

Inspection Firms (IFs) conduct structural, fire, and electrical safety assessments for the factories. IFs validate corrective action plans (CAPs), designs, and CAP closure as per the LABS Standards and Methodology.


Safety Training Firms

Safety Training Firms educate factory staff members and key safety personnel to enhance their skills on flagging safety issues, evacuating, and creating additional awareness regarding structural, electrical, and fire safety.



Quality Assurance Firms

Quality Assurance Firms perform re-assessments in 10% of the factories to ensure quality and consistency of assessments and reporting. Bureau Veritas is the quality assurance firm for the program in India and Vietnam.




Helpline Partners

Workers’ Helpline acts as a centralized, toll-free number where factory workers can anonymously report safety issues related to structural, fire, and electrical safety.

Helpline access is provided through independent third parties, Cyfuture in India and Relia in Vietnam. Helpline access would also be provided to the factories in Cambodia after the program is launched in the country in 2022.


Governance

Steering Committee ,Technical Sub-Committee, Finance Sub Committee and Communication Subcommittee

Brand representatives and IDH form the LABS Steering Committee (SC), the executive decision-making body of the program. It exercises all powers for program execution, including but not limited to selecting, contracting, compensating, and reviewing the program’s performance operations, the oversight and approval of the budget, and all operational policies. The sub-committees steer and guide the technical, financial, and communication aspects of the program.


LABS Process Update

LABS coordinates activities to identify and solve risks related to fire and electrical hazards, structural building safety, and evacuation to improve worker safety. LABS leads and coordinates the process with associated firms for the program to help factories become and stay safe.

2019

2020

2021

Total

Factories onboarded

83

60

122

265

Assessments completed

45

65

141

251

Follow up visits completed

23

85

124

232

Safety trainings conducted

1

83

170

254

Workers reached

1,98,819

1,52,956

2,12,975

5,64,750

Remediation % achieved

45

53

63

161



Transparency

Transparency is at the core of the LABS program. By providing insights into the program and its partners, LABS strives to be as effective as possible. Therefore, maintaining a high level of transparency based on recognized industry good practices, LABS publicly shares information of its standard, activities, progress, and remediation status of factory partners. Additionally, LABS regularly shares Helpline data. 


Learnings Overall

Increased workers’ awareness of electrical, fire, and structural safety was the culmination of: focused interventions; harmonized and replicable framework developed and adopted for electrical, fire and structural safety assessments; trainings; Helpline; and creating and enabling environment for creating pathways of change.

At the same time, proactive recommendations stressed the need to be clearer on how we approach gender equality. In response, LABS is piloting a comprehensive Gender Tool to understand gender dynamics in our work with a goal to improve working conditions and strengthen our impact at all impact areas. We are committed to applying gender lenses in our all interventions.

Going forward, we will continue to reflect on the recommendations provided by our partners and strengthen our ability to abstract lessons learned.



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