Last reviewed 15 July 2020

A health and safety professional body says the current focus on the treatment of workers in Leicester’s garment factories is “much-needed,” and that “UK factories must be part of safe and transparent supply chains”.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) was commenting on a damning new report which, while recognising the many safe factories, highlights low pay in some — as little as £3 an hour — as well as serious worker allegations around wellbeing during Covid-19, including no physical distancing or hand sanitiser, working when ill and modern slavery.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now visited several factory premises in Leicester and has issued health and safety advice to them, with enforcement action and further spot inspections to take place in the coming days and weeks.

With an estimated 40.3 million victims of modern slavery worldwide — around 13,000 of them in the UK — IOSH says this focus on factories must extend throughout supply chains.

The institution has urged that as always, and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that workers’ health and safety is prioritised and there must be proper risk assessment and controls.

Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, said, “Increased attention on the wellbeing and management of factory workers is much-needed and welcome and must extend into supply chains.

“IOSH continues to call for improved due diligence and supply chain transparency, licensing of the garment industry, effective enforcement and consideration of a quality-mark for good work conditions.”

The Labour Behind the Label report is available online.