Social Audit Compliance - Ethical Audit Reports according to SA 8000
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Ethics are extremely important in a work environment. In order to check whether your vendor is working by the legally acceptable ethical standards, you need to conduct a Social Audit of the place. What is a social audit? Let’s find out.
What’s A Social Audit?
A social audit is a certain type of certification audit that check your vendors for any unethical activities in their companies. The ethical or social audit is based on a strong checklist known as the SA 8000. Generally, the practices that categorize as unethical practices include:
If any of these violations are observed, then it can create serious troubles for the vendors and in certain cases for your business too.
Why Social Audits are Important?
Vendors who do not fulfill the requirements of the Ethical Audit or SA 8000 might end up in trouble sooner or later. Furthermore, violations of social ethics indicate that your vendor has little regard for ethical values and can substantially damage your businesses’ image. In addition, you can benefit in multiple ways by conducting social audits of your vendors, for instance:
Why SA8000 certification is important for international brands?
The SA8000 is a voluntary certification standard that sets out requirements for a company’s workplace practices. The standard was developed by Social Accountability International, an NGO that works to promote ethical business practices.
To be certified, a company must demonstrate that it meets the SA8000’s standards for things like workers’ rights, working hours, and health and safety. Certification can provide a number of benefits for both companies and workers. For businesses, it can help to improve employee morale and increase brand loyalty. For workers, it can lead to better working conditions and higher wages.
In order to maintain certification, companies must undergo regular audits and make improvements if any problems are found. As a result, the SA8000 provides a valuable way for businesses to ensure that they are operating in a socially responsible manner.
How to implement the Social audit process
The social audit process generally includes an inspection of the physical facility as well as an assessment of the company’s policies and procedures related to social responsibility, health and safety, and labor law compliance.
The social audit process typically consists of four steps:
- Documents verification
- Manufacturing facilities inspection
- Interview with workers and management
- Report preparation
1. Documents Verification
Social compliance audits involve the verification of documents related to the production process, such as safety manuals, employee policies, and environmental impact assessments. This helps to ensure that all relevant standards are being met. By reviewing these documents, auditors can get a better understanding of how the factory operates and identify any potential hazards.
- Employee Documentation Verification Checklist
– Employee health and safety policies
– Working hours
– Employee training verification
– Record employee compensation, benefits, and overtime
– Age verification to prevent child labor
- Workplace Documentation Review Checklist
– Factory layout
– Evacuation plan
– Emergency contact list
– Safety Manual
– Hazard identification and risk assessment
– Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) policy
– Chemical handling and storage policy
– Waste management procedure
– Fire safety policy
Environmental Documentation Review Checklist
– Environmental impact assessment
– Hazardous waste management plan
– Pollution control procedure
– Solid waste management plan
– Water conservation plan
– Energy efficiency plan
2. Manufacturing facilities inspection
After the document review, the auditor will conduct an on-site inspection of the manufacturing facility. This helps to verify that the information in the documents is accurate and that the facility is complying with all relevant standards. During an inspection of a manufacturing facility, our auditors will check for the following:
– Are exit doors clearly marked and unobstructed?
– Is a fire extinguisher within easy reach of every employee?
– Are all electrical in good condition and free of tripping hazards?
– Are all chemicals properly labeled and stored?
– Is the factory clean and free of clutter?
– Are work areas well ventilated?
– Is there adequate lighting throughout the factory?
– Are stairs and ladders in good condition and used according to safety regulations?
– Are all machines properly guarded?
– Is there a first-aid kit easily accessible in the factory?
– Are all workers wearing appropriate PPE?
3. Interview with workers and management
Interviews with workers and management are an important part of the social compliance audit process. During these interviews, auditors ask questions about working conditions and the operation of the factory. This helps to verify that workers are treated fairly and that they understand and comply with all safety procedures. It also provides an opportunity to identify any potential problems that may not be apparent during the audit.
This information helps to identify any potential problems and allows auditors to make recommendations for improvement.
4. Report preparation:
After the audit is complete, the auditor will compile a report detailing the findings. The report will include recommendations for improvement and may also include information about any violations of labor or safety standards.
How do companies conduct a social audit?
Social audits are inspections of external production houses, factories, or packaging facilities to verify whether the operation complies with social and ethical responsibilities, health and safety regulations, and labor laws. Conducting social audits is a great way to ensure that your internationally outsourced products are being made in a responsible and ethical manner. Here are a few different ways companies can go about conducting a social audit:
Independent third-party social audit:
One way is to hire an independent social auditing firm to carry out the inspection on behalf of the company. This firm should have extensive knowledge of applicable social and ethical standards such as SA 8000 and SMETA, as well as health and safety regulations and labor laws in the countries where they are conducting the audit. They will also be familiar with the company’s own standards, so they can ensure that the manufacturer is meeting all of the necessary requirements.
Direct Audit is another option for companies to conduct the audit themselves with the help of their own auditors. This option can be less expensive than hiring an external auditing firm, but it can be more difficult to ensure that all relevant areas are covered and that all standards are met. However, it can be more challenging to ensure that employees conducting the audit have the appropriate knowledge and expertise to do so effectively.
The final option is to participate in a social audit certification program, which is carried out by an external certification body. This type of audit is often required by retailers in order to do business with them. During the certification audit, the auditor will assess whether the company meets all of the requirements for the chosen standard, such as SA8000, SMETA, BSCI, or GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards. If the manufacturer is found to be compliant, they will be awarded a certificate that they can then use to show potential clients that their products have been ethically and responsibly sourced.
How to address non-conformities after a social compliance audit
Any non-compliance with social and ethical responsibilities, health and safety regulations and labor laws discovered during a social compliance audit should be immediately addressed. Depending on the severity of the infractions, corrective actions may include retraining employees, revising policies and procedures, or shutting down the operation until it is in full compliance. It is also important to remember that social compliance audits are not punitive; rather, they are designed to help operations improve their practices so that everyone involved can benefit.
Social compliance audits are an important way for companies to ensure that their products are being produced in an ethical and responsible manner. By ensuring that facilities meet all applicable social and ethical responsibilities, health and safety regulations, and labor laws, social compliance audits can help to protect the workers in those facilities and the company’s brand image.
Social Audit by Tetra Inspection
Tetra Inspection will nominate a team that is well-versed in the SA 8000 checklist requirements to audit your vendor. Our expert auditors will check the vendor against the following requirements: