International fashion brands join LABS initiative in Cambodia

Life and Building Safety (LABS) initiative, a sustainable trade programme, was recently launched by IDH to promote safer working conditions for factory workers in the apparel, footwear, and accessories industry by assessing factories and providing a framework for their monitoring, mitigating, and remediating. 

The Initiative will operate in all major hubs of Cambodia including Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Speu, and Takeo and is expected to benefit approximately 206,000 workers in 2022. 

LABS has been operational in India and Vietnam since 2019, where over 572,000 workers have benefitted from the programme. Expanding into Cambodia aligns with the programme’s ambition to mitigate preventable fire, electrical, and structural building safety risks in key production countries in the sector. 

With a pressing need to protect workers from structural, fire, and electrical safety risks, several leading apparel brands approached IDH to create a coherent and consistent workersafety programme, leading to the development of the Initiative. Major brands including Bestseller, Gap, Target, VF Corporation, and Walmart joined the programme that cover small, medium, and large enterprises in these countries. 

Pramit Chanda, global director for textiles & manufacturing, IDH and LABS spokesperson, said, “Aimed at improving worker safety in the apparel and footwear industries, LABS effectively identifies and mitigates the potential risks related to fire, electrical, and structural building safety and evacuation. Our expansion into Cambodia is aligned with our goals to scale the programmes in key apparel and footwear hubs. LABS continues to build on the learnings and engagements from the work in India and Vietnam.” 

LABS participants, facilitated by the LABS Secretariat, engage with local stakeholders, such as industry associations, civil society organisations (CSOs), governments, and institutes to create better safety policies and provisions. The LABS standards and methodology are based on international best practices and codes, including, but not limited to the International Building Code and National Building Code of Cambodia. In addition to applicable country laws, factories commit to adhering to a harmonised, country-level standard regarding structural, fire, and electrical safety under LABS. IDH supports the overall facilitation of LABS as well as the development of the operational setup.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (HO)

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