Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Report Highlights Worker Education and Safety Issues
Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) recently updated Supplier Responsibility report described several programs that the Cupertino-based company has initiated to improve labor conditions for its workforce. The report covers Apple’s workers’ rights training programs, maximum workweek compliance rates, EHS (environment, health, and safety) education programs for employees, and environmental responsibility initiatives.
As seen in the graph above, participation in Apple’s workers’ rights training programs has been steadily increasing over the past seven years. According to Apple, approximately 1.5 million workers were educated on their rights by the company’s suppliers last year.
According to the report, Apple has been largely successful in reining in excessive working hours for its employees. Apple requests that its suppliers limit workers’ workweek to a maximum of sixty hours. Although the sixty-hour workweek compliance rate noticeably decreased during the crucial month of September, Apple’s suppliers maintained an average compliance rate of 95 percent throughout 2013. It should be noted that Apple launched the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C last September, which may explain the sudden drop in work-hour compliance during that time period.
In order to address the shortage of qualified environment, health, and safety (EHS) personnel in overseas facilities, Apple launched the Apple Supplier EHS Academy. The intensive eighteen-month program educates factory personnel about workplace safety and health management. Last year, over 240 supplier participants went through the program. Those participants represent factories with over 270,000 combined employees. “The EHS Academy is practical,” stated Casetek Holdings HR and EHS director Light Tseng via Apple’s website. “It includes both education on EHS subjects and guidance on actual implementation at the factory level.”
Apple’s Supplier Responsibility report also featured a new environmental responsibility section for the first time. According to Apple, the company is working with industry experts to “identify high-risk facilities, conduct audits focused on environmental issues, and develop methods to lessen our environmental impact.” Besides ensuring that its suppliers use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes to make Apple’s products, the California-based company also launched a new Clean Water Program. Per Apple, the program’s goals are to “help reduce water usage, promote water recycling, and prevent illegal water pollution within our supply chain.” The program is currently in its pilot phase and is focused on thirteen facilities that are known to consume a combined 41 million cubic meters of water per year.
Apple’s Supplier Responsibility report also included a map that shows where the company’s various suppliers are located around the world. Although the vast majority of suppliers are based in China and other Asian countries, the map also showed that sixty suppliers are based in the U.S.
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