Even as the world struggles to contain and eradicate the novel coronavirus, conversations have turned to musings about what a post-COVID-19 world will look like. And while we have more questions than answers today, one thing is certain,: health and safety measures will be under the microscope, affecting how governments and private industries conduct themselves going forward.
Wuhan, China, which was the epicenter of the outbreak, has already reemerged from lockdown. Over the past week, the city of 11 million is slowly getting back to work. And the region’s approach to bouncing back will determine whether it has successfully snuffed out the virus or if a second outbreak undermines its efforts. Given our current lack of vaccines, herd immunity or even a full understanding of how the virus operates, the city remains vulnerable to a second shutdown.
And so, too, does the rest of the world.
Currently countries around the globe have taken the drastic measures to shutter operations and halt movement in the hopes of flattening the curve. But in order to have a lasting impact, they must also have a plan for protecting the well-being of their citizens once daily life resumes.
For the apparel industry, this means balancing the health and safety of factory workers with the desire to get production ramped back up. It is the collective responsibility of everyone across the supply chain to ensure that precautions are put in place to ensure production facilities are safe.
“Just as we are indirectly responsible for ensuring the social and environmental standards of our partner facilities, we are doubly responsible for ensuring that human beings are not risking a devastating outbreak to build our products,” Carlos Moncayo, co-founder and CEO of Quality, Sustainability and EHS digital platform Inspectorio, said in a letter on the company’s site. “We must act now, and we must do it together as an industry.”
The challenge will be the lack of visibility most companies have into their supply chain operations. Without insight into what’s happening on the ground, retailers and brands will not be capable of monitoring the soundness of the workforce in partner facilities.
For that reason, Inspectorio is offering use of its new COVID-19 enabled Rise platform for free. Rise enables brands and retailers to collaborate with suppliers and factories on health and safety readiness programs for COVID-19, by monitoring compliance with these initiatives across a global supply chain and managing corrective actions and continuous improvement plans in real time—taking the guesswork out of identifying the risk of what’s happening during production.
“We are not doing this for business. We’re doing it to be part of an industry-wide effort to protect people and places we have developed deep bonds with through our work,” said Moncayo.
However, in order for this initiative to see success, there needs to be a commonly agreed upon health and safety guideline (if we want to avoid contributing to the already acknowledged industry problem of audit fatigue). The industry needs to work together and we need to act now.
Inspectorio, in collaboration with leading brands, retailers and international NGOs, incorporating well established industry guidelines and in accordance with national health and safety regulations, is working on a set of COVID-19 workplace readiness guidelines. These guidelines are hosted and executed on the Rise platform, enabling brands, retailers and suppliers to closely monitor how facilities manage hazards, the way in which they address weaknesses and their preparedness for coming back into production.
The platform makes this process much more streamlined and quicker than it would be otherwise. And the results of these assessments will allow sourcing managers to determine the areas in which each facility needs the most support.
Once operations are back up and running, brand and retail partners will need to continuously monitor the compliance of health and safety guidelines, seamlessly manage thousands of corrective actions and autonomously recommend proven resolutions, directly from their offices—or homes—anywhere in the world. Rise enables organizations to protect workers’ health and safety at a time when it is more important than ever. However, this cannot be a single company effort—this must be an industry effort.
“Let’s act now, and make a difference together,” Moncayo said.