Monitoring Safety Throughout Your Supply Chain 1

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Thursday, March 10th, 2016
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Most businesses are doing a great job of keeping their own workforce safe and prioritising good work practices, but when it comes to thinking about the application of safe practices throughout the supply chain, a lot of businesses have a head in the sand mentality.

Frankly, it’s not good enough.

Prioritising safety at every level of your business means also taking an active interest in the safe practices of your suppliers, wholesalers, distributors and retail network.

Acting cooperatively can have more impact on work safety

Safety in the workplace should be everyone’s priority. As an organisation, to be truly taking a holistic view of safe work practices, you should be concerned about:

  • How raw materials are sourced and supplied to you
  • How any components you use are manufactured
  • Product assembly by suppliers
  • How materials, components and products are transported and distributed to you
  • How your products are supplied to customers at the retail level

By taking an interest in these activities – even those that occur outside of your organisation – you can have an even greater impact on health and safety. If you are in a respected leadership position within your industry and supply chain, you can influence the actions that others in your supply chain take towards safety and raise everyone’s expectations.

Your obligations can extend beyond what you think

Aside from prioritising safety being the right thing to do, it is also worth noting that the actions of others in your supply chain can have a direct impact on your business. It comes down to this: if you have influence over the actions of others, you can be seen to have responsibility and legal liability.

To illustrate, let’s take the transportation of goods as an example.

As the receiver of goods, you need to ensure that your delivery requirements do not require or encourage drivers to exceed the speed limit, exceed regulated driving hours, fail to meet minimum test requirements, or drive while impaired by fatigue. You also need to ensure that goods carried on your behalf can be appropriately secured. These are minimum responsibilities that you share together with the transportation company you engage.

Due diligence matters

When selecting suppliers, it’s important to ask the right questions about safety. This is especially true if working with international companies that may not operate within the same legal environment as your organisation. As well as having a process to ask about questions, it can be well worth making physical visits to manufacturing sites and implementing a strategy for improving workplace safety if required. It’s always important to remember that workplace safety incidents – even those that aren’t directly related to your actions – can have wide-ranging ramifications from reputational damage through to financial costs and legal action.

Don’t keep your head in the sand about the safety of your supply chain. Make it your business to know that your suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retail networks place as much emphasis on safety as you do.

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  1. Anne Paten

    Well said, Emma.
    Our Governments long ago abrogated their responsibilities and industry needs to step up if we are ever to stem the ever-deteriorating tide. At the end of the day, head in the sand and self-interest is not in anyone's interest. To deny the reality, to support ongoing non-compliance and to pretend that a cheap and nasty – and an unsafe built environment is good, has ramifications for us all. We are all in this together and when everyone is at risk, no-one is safe.

    Until those in positions of influence face the facts, we are all endangered. WE need to consider the human cost as the most important – so difficult in the building industry where money has been the driving force for so long.