DEPARTMENTS
img_201811_letters
LETTERS
Praise for “Ending Modern Slavery”
Congratulations to Thomas P. Fuller for his outstanding article, “Ending Modern Slavery: A New Role for Corporate Social Responsibility Programs” [September issue], and to The Synergist for going outside the envelope of industrial hygiene and reaching out into social science. I work for a federal agency where I work with immigrants, many undocumented. I have heard too many times that, in too many workplaces, workers are exposed to hazards but are afraid to complain for fear of deportation. I have been told by some of these workers that employers have threatened to call immigration to have them deported if they complain to OSHA or the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division about the employer’s violations.  I talk to customers of the Consulates of Mexico, Guatemala, and The Philippines about their labor rights.  My brother recently retired from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he was a forensic photographer. He once took a video of human traffickers bringing illegal immigrants from China to the U.S. A Chinese-speaking ICE agent had to interpret what was being said. The traffickers brought the immigrants in ships and sold them to various businesses where the immigrants had to live and work as slaves for a long time until they repaid the business owners for the cost of the trip to the U.S. Before the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse, which killed over 1,100 workers and injured many more, hundreds of Bangladeshi workers had burned to death in several workplace fires. International organizations are working to require safety and health standards for these workplaces, but many of the major companies that make clothes in Asia and sell them in the U.S. have refused to participate.  Industrial hygienists and safety professionals cannot remain ignorant of these issues and limit themselves to reading about the technical aspects of our jobs. We must become active in the fight for justice for workers worldwide. Jorge A. Delucca, MS, MA, CAIH
“While traveling to some very challenging parts of the world, I have personally witnessed the heartbreaking conditions workers are forced to endure for a paycheck. More IHs and safety professionals should get involved in this space to assist the legacy ‘social’ audit firms, NGOs, and governments.”
The opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of AIHA® or The Synergist. Letters are published at the discretion of the editor and may be edited for clarity. Send letters to The Synergist.
I thought Tom Fuller did an admirable job of summarizing supplier social responsibility issues—both the shortcomings and the progress that has been made in recent years. I recently retired after having built and managed a large-scale CSR program for my former company’s supply chain (branded merchandise sold world-wide). The program included the development and implementation of thousands of EHS and labor audits and managed the associated findings. I had to design a practical way of translating the code of conduct into the due diligence processes. I hired and trained third-party auditors, and I staffed-up the organization with EHS professionals in each geographic region to manage the program. It is indeed difficult to influence suppliers that are selected by licensees or third-party middlemen, and each country has its own unique cultural issues that can present barriers to improving EHS conditions and labor practices. I had a huge learning curve when I first built the program in 2009, but I hit a good stride by 2018. I worked with (and currently still work with) various international, trade, and nongovernmental organizations to further improve the way labor and EHS programs are audited, educating them on “what ‘good’ looks like” for an EHS program, building the knowledge of auditors. I have learned a lot by participating on the “Forced Labor” steering committee on the Consumer Goods Forum to formulate forced labor audit criteria and techniques. While traveling to some very challenging parts of the world, I have personally witnessed the heartbreaking conditions workers are forced to endure for a paycheck. More IHs and safety professionals should get involved in this space to assist the legacy “social” audit firms, NGOs, and governments. I believe Tom Fuller’s article will generate interest and help make a difference. It was gratifying to see the topic so well handled. Judi Kovacs, CIH, CPEA Owner and CEO, ab3 environmental