The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) has launched the Life and Building Safety (LABS) Initiative in Cambodia in order to create safer working conditions for factory employees in the clothing, footwear, and accessories industries.
Since 2019, the LABS industrial safety project has been running in India and Vietnam, with IDH reporting that over 572,000 workers have benefited from the program.
By assessing factories and offering a framework for monitoring, mitigating, and remediating, the Initiative promotes safer working conditions for manufacturing employees in the clothing, footwear, and accessories industry.
According to IDH, expanding into Cambodia corresponds with the program's goal of mitigating unnecessary fire, electrical, and structural building safety hazards in major industrial countries.
The Initiative will operate in all major Cambodian hubs, including Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, and Takeo, and will serve around 206,000 employees by 2022.
Pramit Chanda, global director for textiles and manufacturing, IDH and LABS spokesperson, said that LABS detects and mitigates possible hazards connected to fire, electrical, and structural building safety and evacuation, with the goal of increasing worker safety in the textile and footwear sectors. Their entry into Cambodia is consistent with the aim of scaling programs in significant clothing and footwear hubs. LABS continues to build on the learnings and engagements from our work in India and Vietnam.
With an urgent need to safeguard workers from structural, fire, and electrical safety threats, IDH claims it was approached by multiple fashion brands to design a coherent and uniform worker-safety program, which resulted in the creation of the Initiative. Gap Inc, Target, VF Corporation, and Walmart joined the programme that cover small, medium, and large enterprises in these countries.
LABS members work with local stakeholders such as industry groups, civil society organizations (CSOs), governments, and institutes to develop stronger safety rules and procedures, aided by the LABS Secretariat. The LABS Standards and Methodology are based on worldwide best practices and codes, such as the International Building Code and the Cambodian National Building Code. Under LABS, firms agree to follow a harmonised, nation-level standard for structural, fire, and electrical safety in addition to applicable country legislation. IDH is committed to both the general facilitation of LABS and the development of the operational structure.
LABS aims to establish a safety standard against which garment and footwear manufacturing will be evaluated. The LABS evaluation is not a code compliance check; rather, it specifies a needed degree of safety based on worldwide best practices while taking the local situation into account. All technical standards are made up of interconnected measures that, when combined, are deemed to ensure an acceptable degree of safety in a structure.
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