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Study Details Baseline Needs to Bring Factories into Compliance with Labor Standards

Researchers from North Carolina State University have conducted an in-depth study to establish all of the actions apparel factories will need to take in order to come into compliance with international labor standards. The study is a first step toward determining what such compliance would cost consumers, and building support for making the needed changes.

“People talk about improving standards for apparel factory workers, but there’s a cost to doing so,” says Rob Handfield, corresponding author of the study. “If we really want to improve standards, we need to nail down what those costs are and build support for paying those costs.

“This paper lays the foundation for that work. It doesn’t calculate precise costs, but – for the first time – outlines all of the things that need to be done at apparel factories to comply with international labor standards: fair pay, working conditions, fire safety, and so on.” Handfield is the Bank of America University Distinguished Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Management in NC State’s Poole College of Management.

For the study, researchers surveyed 15 professionals with experience in auditing apparel factories to determine the extent to which they comply with international labor standards. The goal of the survey was to identify all of the actions factories would need to perform in order to come into minimum compliance with those standards, with a particular focus on actions that would incur an expense.

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