What is Compliance? Understanding Compliance in Textile Sector

License: Creative Commons 3 – CC BY-SA 3.0 – pictopedia

Introduction:

Compliance means fulfilling / conforming to certain standard, rule , regulation, policies, SOP’s or goals set out by organization. It can be:

  • National legal requirement
  • International legal requirement
  • Customer Requirement
  • Certification requirements
  • Internal Policies, procedures, guidelines

So, in this article we are going to list down compliance requirement in the Apparel & Footwear sector.

Due to Lack of Compliance, what can happen, You can read it here:

Categories of Compliance:

There are different types of compliance’s that are required from a textile unit to fulfill. Types of compliance with their brief introduction are as follows:

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1.Social /Labor Compliance:

This is the type of compliance where you are required to fulfill labor law requirement as required by National labor Law or ILO and some best practice requirements by customer. It covers:

  • Payment issues
  • Working Hours
  • Working Environment
  • Disciplinary practices
  • Labor Practices

2.OHS Compliance:

In this type of compliance you are asked to fulfill Occupation, health and safety requirements. It can Standards set out by local authorities or standards made by customer. Customers can also ask you to fulfill different international standard e.g. OSHAS etc. It covers:

  • Fire Safety
  • Machine Safety
  • Electrical Safety
  • Physical/biological Hazards

Read More here: How Lean Manufacturing System can improve EHS

3.Environmental Compliance:

Here a factory have to comply with Environmental requirements that can be local or international or requirements set out by customer. Environmental Compliance covers:

  • How you manage waste of your facility?
  • You have environment permit or not?
  • What is the impact of your activities / processes?
  • How you manage your processes/activities to make it environment friendly

4.Product Quality Compliance:

Product quality is a very important compliance area. This is where there is zero tolerance. If a product is not a quality product then you won’t get the customer. In Product quality compliance, we consider:

  • How a company manages its products?
  • How a quality product is ensured?
  • What are the faults?
  • How the defects are removed?
  • How material is handled?

5.Security Compliance

This compliance is mostly applicable on export oriented industries. This compliance arises due to terrorism and customer data protection issues. It will include:

  • Who have access to certain areas?
  • Who have access to data/files?
  • How products are packed?
  • How some areas are access restricted?
  • How site security is ensured?
  • How product design security is ensured?

6.Structural / Building Compliance:

After collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, international brands have now been trying to make sure that this does not happen again. Brands are conducting building assessment.

  • What is the strength of building?
  • What is the load capacity of the building?
  • What are defect in the building?
  • How building can be made safe?

7.Certification Compliances:

There can be different types of certification e.g. Management system certification, social, environmental, quality, safety certification against different standards e.g ISO standards, BSCI, SMETA etc. there might be some special requirements of these certifications depending on standards e.g. how documents are managed etc.

Conformance with these requirements depending on their applicability is compulsory. If some requirement is not meet, it leads to Non-Conformance or Non- Compliance.

If there is any serious non-compliance then:

  • Customer can stop business
  • Legal authority can seal the company
  • Certification body can cancel certification

Rana Plaza Collapse, Bangladesh- 24th April 2013

On 24 April 2013, rana plaza in Savar housing, Dhaka collapsed killing 1,134 and injuring more than 2500 people ( different source mentions different number of deaths and injured). This building had done illegal extension of floor reaching 9 floors. There were Five garment factories, shops, banks in this plaza.

The factories in this plaza were producing garments for international brands i.e. Inditex (ZARA), Carrefour, H & M, Gap, Mango, C & A, Joe Fresh, Walmart etc. Brands didn’t took responsibility for unsafe condition in the factories.

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Under pressure from public brands paid 30 Million dollars and had to come up with two watchdogs:

  • Accord on Fire and Building safety
  • Alliance on Worker Safety

Read More on Compliance Requirements here: What is Compliance? Understanding Compliance in Textile Sector

Even after 6 years the survivors have not been fully compensated. Transparency International Bangladesh found our that 51% of the survivors are still jobless and most of them have not been paid any type of compensation.

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Now the survivors are on hunger strike and have 11 demands some of the demands are as follows::

  • Taking steps for the rehabilitation of the survivors
  • Providing medical services to them for life
  • Announcing 24 April as the National Rana Plaza Mourning Day
  • Bearing the education expenses of the victims’ children
  • Ensuring highest punishment of those responsible for the tragedy and confiscating their assets.

6 Years have passed but the people responsible for the accident have not been prosecuted as of yet. Sohel Rana, the owner of the factory with other responsible persons are on Bail. Sohel Rana was convicted on hidding his assets but not on killing.

Even after such incident, Bangladeshi are still struggling for their basic rights. Recently hundreds of Garments workers were fired just for demanding rise in basic pay.

Bangladesh Govt., International brands, NGOs need to do more for provision of Bangladesh Garment workers rights.

Chemical Plant Explosion in China

Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Company Explosion site and range: Bing Map,
Photo Credits: New York Times

On 21st March, 2019, around 15:00 an explosion occurred in Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Plant. Some take away points from this Environmental Disaster are as follows:

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  • This accident killed almost 78 and injured more than 600 people
  • Cause of this accident is not under investigation
  • According to one survivor, fire started from a Methane Truck and spread to benzene storage area that caused explosion
  • It took almost 12 hours to take the fire under control (Fire started on Thursday shapely before 15:00 and at 3:00 am Friday fire fighter controlled it. At 7:00 am, Friday, situation was under control.
  • Almost 900 Firefighter participated in fire extinguishing process
  • Explosion caused a mini earthquake with 2.2 range
  • Due to this explosion glasses of buildings were broken within 5 Km range. There are several residential areas in this 5 km range and
  • There are three elementary schools and two kindergartens within 2 km of the explosion site
  • International journalist were blocked from visit the area/Hospitals and anti drone technology was used to stop shoot of the explosion area by news channels. Only few local journalist were allowed to visit the site and hospitals.
  • Almost 4000 local were evacuated from the area
  • This chemical plant was fined several times by the regulatory authority for violation of Safety Laws but was allowed to keep operating
  • Jiangsu environmental protection bureau conducted air quality monitoring of the disaster area and found that levels of benzene , toluene and xylene were not abnormal and chloroform and acetone in disaster area were within limits

There have been consistent disasters like this in china, in 2015 similar blast in Tianjin killed 170 people in southeast of Beijing. According to Greenpeace there is on accident/day in china related to chemical plants.
Locals in & around these chemical industries are concerned about their safety but they are even afraid form Chinese authorities, to speak up.

What is Lean Manufacturing System its relation with EHS

Lean Manufacturing System is a systematic method to minimize waste without compromising productivity in a manufacturing environment (Production).

Waste

According to Lean, any non-value added action or step is waste.

Type of Wastes:

There are 8 types of wastes on which Lean manufacturing system is focusing.

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  1. Defects –
  2. Over Production
  3. Waiting
  4. Non Utilized Talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Extra Processing

Lean and EHS Relationship

Initially it was believed that lean manufacturing system is only to improve quality, productivity and to minimize the waste. But according to research it was found that lean manufacturing/management system can help to comply with Social compliance requirements.

Nike also started using Lean Manufacturing system (Toyota Manufacturing system) for efficiency. Nike also conducts audits to labour and HSE practices in its supply chain. After implementation of lean system, scoring of suppliers was improved in their Labour and health, safety and environment performance by approximately 15%. There were impacts on over time, workplace safety, emission, solid waste.

Whole Lean Manufacturing/ management system can help improve health, safety and environmental compliance at workplace especially 6S and Kaizen system that drive continuous improvement.

Below mentioned book Could really help to understand more on Lean Manufacturing system and it impacts.

Read more here on EHS Compliance Requirements

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Sustainable Development Goals

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Media Welcome Reception at the Annual Meeting 2017 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 16, 2017. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Ciaran McCrickard

Sustainable Development is about protecting the environment, ending poverty and social justice. Sustainable development goals came into effect on January 2016, and are applicable till 2030. There are 17 Goals of UN sustainable development. United Nations Development Program is taking the lead role here through its financing program.
The 17 SDGs are as follows

  1. Ending Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and well being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation
  7. Afforestation and Clean Energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace, justice and Strong Communities
  17. Partnerships for the Goal

These goals are based on three pillars of Sustainability:

  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Society
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All these goals are integrated with each other. If one is effects, there will be some impact on other goals as well.

Initially these goals were SDGs 2020 (target of achieving was 2020) but later changed to SDGs 2030 (revised target as 2030) due to slow progress towards them. Still progress towards 2030 goals is slow. According to UN report almost all of the targets are responding either slow or not even on track, due to on going worldwide war on terrorism and conflicts.

How Plastic is Killing Marine Life?

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Plastic is a moldable substance. It can take any shape that why it has complete become part of our life. Even our daily routine items are also made of plastic i.e. plastic bottles, disposable items, shopping bags etc.

No one can deny the importance of plastic material, plastics saves our shipments by creating water proof covering, saves our eatables, etc. but we humans are irresponsible towards everything available in access.

Items made of plastic usually take tens of years to decompose in the soil releasing harmful chemicals, even some types of plastic material might take centuries to decompose in the natural environment.

Once the plastic material is disposed in soil and become part of it, this material blocks the seepage of water underground, mixing of oxygen, inhibits growth of plants etc.

There is an increase in trend of garments made of polyester, a form of plastic. During its manufacturing process micro-plastics are formed. These micro-plastic easily pass on to the steam and then to oceans.  Micro-plastics are also released from other processes like aging of tires etc. In oceans these micro plastics gets trapped in the bodies of marine life. Slowly micro-plastics pill up and blocks the chanals in the body of aquatic life (digestive track, air ways) causing the unfortunate death of the fishes, turtles, whales.

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In a recent event a whale was found dead in Italy. When investigated it was found that there was 48 pound of plastic in its body that caused its death. In recent times, death toll of marine life is increasing day by day.

There is another process known as bio-magnification, when the micro-plastic becomes part of fish body it gets transferred to anyone eating the contaminated fish. So, this is one way through which human can be directly affected and so many are out there.

Different solutions are proposed by different communities like proper management, recycling etc. but via these techniques the plastic is still there. Biodegradable plastic is an excellent solution to this problem.  Biodegradable plastic can degrade in natural environment in matter of few weeks/months.  

“So, the time to take action is now and create a plastic free world”

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UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion

Textiles Background Bright Textile Texture Pattern
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On March 14th, during its 4th U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, United Nations with the help of other various actor like, World bank (Connect4Climate) , Ethical Fashion Initiative , UNECE , U.N. Environment , and other agencies officially announced UN Alliance for Sustainable fashion.

It was long realized how destructive fashion industry is towards environment. There are different organization like Sustainable Apparel Coalition , ZDHC , Textile Exchange , etc. currently working on sustainable fashion or reducing the impact of fashion industry on environment.

Sustainability basically consists of three components i.e.

  • Environment
  • Social
  • Economy

So, United nations in this Alliance focus on all these sphere. According to UN report, the fashion industry (Clothing & Textile):


1. Adds $2.4 trillion to global manufacturing

2. 75 Million People are employees by fashion industry Worldwide, most of them are women

3. $500 billion of value is lost every year due to lack of recycling in clothing industry

4. 8-10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are released by Fashion industry
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Fashion industry (clothing & textile ) is expected to grow many folds in future, as well as the socioeconomic and environmental impact.

Commitment towards sustainable development of fashion industry by UN will have huge positive impacts as this will include government level commitments specifically for fashion industry.

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