• cotance@euroleather.com

What tannery workplace health & safety accountability for leather value chains?

COTANCE & industriAll-European trade union launched on November 6, 2017, a wide multi-stakeholder survey for exploring modalities and preferences in the industry for testifying workplace safety in tanneries. The survey has been entrusted to the University of Northampton and will run until the end of December. Stakeholders will have the possibility to respond to a dedicated short but precise on-line questionnaire in any of the 7 languages in which the survey has been prepared; languages include English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese and also Romanian thanks to the sector’s Social Partners of Romania who offered the translation.

This survey is part of the Social Dialogue Project that also updates the On-Line interactive Risk Assessment (OiRA) tool that COTANCE and its social partner developed in 2011 for the tanning sector (https://oiraproject.eu/en/oira-tools). The OiRA tanning tool helps small and medium sized tanners in particular in the proper management of occupational health and safety risks. The tool is meant as a reference to give valuable information and suggestions to perform a risk assessment for a tannery and produce a report in order to minimise and eliminate health and safety risks. Implementation of the tool does not necessarily ensure legal compliance with certain countries’ national health and safety regulations, but eventual gaps are of minor importance. The tool was intended as a guide to health and safety issues in tanneries and give examples for good practices.

Now the sector’s Social Partners intend to go a step further and assess the ability and opportunity of Tannery Risk Assessment Reports for serving as a communication tool along leather value chains for testifying how health and safety is managed in tanning operations.

Rather than leaving the setting of protocols and standards and the verification of practice to bodies that are not familiar with the tanning industry, as it has happened in the past in the field of environment, the Social Partners intend to offer cost-effective solutions where the expertise remains in the industry. The Leather sector’s EU Social Partners are active on this front since the turn of the Millennium and their efforts are rewarded with very low incident rates in the sector. However, dramatic Internet images from extra-EU tanneries continue to affect negatively the reputation of the tanning industry.

The Rana Plaza accident in April 2013 that caused many deaths in the textile and clothing industry has moved many Brands to look more closely at workplace heath & safety in their supply chains.

The COTANCE and industriAll initiative lends itself to the OCDE Guidance document on Due Diligence for the Garment and Footwear sector.

Brussels, 9 November 2017