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Top Three CSR Challenges Facing Asian Factories


In our sourcing projects, TBA has come across repeating infractions of corporate social responsibility (CSR) standards in Asian factories. TBA recently conducted a series of audits at factories in Southern China and Southeast Asia.  

The most commonly observed CSR infractions fall into the following categories: unsatisfactory workplace safety arrangements, overworking employees, and poor compensation and record keeping practices.  


Audited factories faced many challenges related to: failing to plan for emergencies, and risky treatment of hazardous chemicals and other dangerous supplies. The most common safety infraction that our team witnessed was the lack of an evacuation plan. Our team also noticed that several of the audited plants had not installed smoke detectors, did not have access to fire hoses, and had locked or otherwise obstructed emergency exits. In addition to poor physical infrastructure for potential emergencies, many factories do not communicate evacuation procedures adequately. Together, these infractions indicate that these facilities are unprepared that is unprepared for an emergency situation. Secondly, many factories were using hazardous chemicals without adequate safety labeling and had not provided their staff with sufficient safety training.  

Work time

Chinese law stipulates that employees must not work more than 6 days per week or more than 60 hours per week. At one factory in Southern China, however, we found company records indicating that employees had worked 23 consecutive days; another Chinese factory reported an employee had worked 84 hours in one week.

Wages and record keeping

Some factories do not maintain sufficient records and have been accused of not compensating their employees in full and/or falsifying the wage records. At one factory, we were unable to ascertain whether employees were being compensated adequately due to poor record keeping. This problem persists across Asia and must be improved to meet international standards of social responsibility.

Comparing the conclusion of our audits with the situation across Asia demonstrates that the infractions seen at our potential suppliers’ factories are representative of the Asian procurement landscape as a whole. While these particular infractions did not result in any of the factories failing the social audit, they did reveal a clear path to improving social responsibility practices.


Source: china sourcing blog

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