Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety

Get the manual

Securing the health and safety of workers is a continuous challenge, which is also why working proactively to minimise work-related risks and hazards is a necessity. Require that worker safety is a priority at all times. Also require suppliers to ensure that workers are protected from hazardous equipment, insufferable surroundings or unsafe premises. The workplace should be safe and hygienic and the supplier should take effective steps to prevent potential accidents and to minimise health risks as much as possible. Safety awareness should always be a priority and should be understood and implemented daily by everyone working in the factory.

Lack of control over the safety situation can cause injuries or death, which is why establishing systems to detect, avoid or respond to potential threats to the health and safety of workers is crucial. NICE recommends that you investigate work-related accidents and keep a record of them that states the causes and remedial measures taken to prevent similar incidents. NICE also recommends creating a detailed safety policy.

One first aid kit should be supplied for every one-hundred workers. The kit should be clearly marked and located on the factory floor to give workers immediate access

In particular, the following safety issues should be taken into account: general routines and working conditions, emergency preparedness, emergency exits, fire, first aid, safety equipment (sandblasting), housekeeping (food, water and sanitary facilities), housing facilities and dormitories.


  • General routines and working conditions
  • Document the status of health and safety issues and plans for improvements in an annual written report
  • Train your workforce on a regular basis to raise awareness of health and security issues
  • Provide all workers with information in their local language about the health and safety standards relevant to their activities that includes the effects of chemicals and substances used in manufacturing processes, lists potential hazards and explains what measures are available to protect workers
  • Provide the information orally and in writing
  • Provide all workers with regular and recorded health and safety training
  • Ensure that all work stations have adequate body positioning, lighting, air, ventilation and temperatures at all times
  • Provide fans or heaters where required
  • Set up a routine for regular cleaning of the heating, ventilation and/or air conditioning system
  • Provide all workers with access to water at all times


Emergency preparedness

  • Have a procedure in place for identifying workplace hazards and assessing the risks
  • Have a safety committee or group that includes management representatives, workers from various factory divisions and, if possible, representatives from trade unions. Have the groups meet regularly to discuss safety in various work areas, possible scenarios, different responsibilities in an emergency situation, complaints and the overall level of safety in the factory
  • Keep a record of the meetings and their outcomes
  • Have procedures to prepare for and respond to possible emergencies, such as fires, earthquakes, hurricanes or chemical spills
  • Ensure that all workers are aware of the safety precautions, such as emergency exits, fire extinguishers and first aid equipment
  • Clearly display an evacuation plan in your factory written in a language(s) that all workers understand and with symbols showing the location of e.g. fire equipment and escape routes
  • Have a description of the role and responsibility of workers in the event of an emergency to make them well prepared if an accident occurs
  • Regularly hold evacuation drills to ensure that all workers are familiar with evacuation procedures
  • Document the drills with date, evacuation time, participants and photos. Evaluate the drills afterwards


Emergency exits

  • Have clearly marked exits and preferably emergency exits on all floors at all factories and/or housing facilities
  • All emergency exit doors must open outwardly
  • Emergency exit doors must not be blocked on the inside or the outside by e.g. goods, fabrics or boxes
  • If emergency exits are locked for safety reasons or to prevent theft, place the keys behind breakable glass next to the exit doors or make them easily accessible and thus available to all staff at all times
  • Ensure that the factory has enough emergency exits to safely serve the number of workers. NICE suggests that if there are less than 150 workers there should be two exits; between 150-1,000 workers, three exits; and more than 1,000 workers, four exits. Emergency exits must not lead to elevators
  • Clearly mark all exits with signs written in language(s) that all workers understand
  • Ensure that exit signs are visible from a distance of 30 m (100 ft) and that the letters are at least 15 cm (6 in) high, brightly coloured and contrast with surrounding surfaces
  • Install emergency lighting that shows where the emergency exits are in the event of a power shortage


Determining how many workers must be trained to give first aid depends on the number of workers in the factory and the distance from the factory to the nearest medical facility. NICE recommends training at least one worker on every factory floor. This person should be easy to identify, e.g. by a visible Red Cross or Red Crescent symbol on the sleeve


  • Post fire brigade telephone number on notice boards
  • Ensure that all workers know how to contact the fire brigade in the event of an emergency
  • Have an audio or visual device, such as an alarm, that is triggered by fire or smoke and can alert occupants in the entire building
  • Check the fire alarm regularly
  • Install all floors and sections of the factory with fire extinguishers that are regularly checked and clearly marked so they are visible from at least 30 m (100 ft) away
  • Make a sufficient number of fire extinguishers available on all floors
  • Train an adequate number of workers in the proper use of fire extinguishers
  • Document fire fighting drills with date, participants and photos


Examples of typical personal protection equipment include hearing protection, such as earmuffs and earplugs (required when the noise exposure level is over 85 dB); eye protection, such as safety glasses, goggles, masks, face shields, gloves, aprons and hard hats; and foot protection, such as safety shoes

First aid

  • Equip the factory and, if present, dormitories with first aid kits that are simple to use for lay persons
  • Have a doctor or nurse available at short notice if accidents occur
  • Keep a record of work-related accidents in a logbook that describes the cause of the accident and the remedial measures taken to prevent future accidents
  • Regularly provide workers with first aid training


Sandblasting involves propelling an abrasive material at high-velocity to clean or etch a surface. Widely used in the manufacturing industry sandblasting requires paying particular attention to safeguarding the health and safety of workers. Extended inhalation of the dust created by sand (or similar materials) causes silicosis, an occupational lung disease

Safety equipment

  • Supply workers with personal protective equipment, i.e. specialised clothing or equipment that guards against health and safety hazards
  • Maintain, service and equip all machinery with proper protection measures
  • Do not accept any hazardous work equipment or unsafe factories and/or housing facilities
  • Install adequate ventilation in a separate, closed area if you sandblast. Educate workers on how to use adequate personal protection equipment


The United States Department of Labor defines hazardous chemicals as a substance capable of doing harm to people

Housekeeping (food, water and sanitary facilities)

  • Clean your factory on a daily basis
  • Keep stairs, aisles and exits clear
  • Keep workstations free of dust, clutter and litter
  • Keep roofs and roof drains clean and unclogged
  • Make drinking water available on every floor that meets local quality standards for potable water
  • Store flammable and combustible chemicals and materials properly
  • Store and handle hazardous chemicals in a safe manner at all times
  • Provide workers with a clean canteen/dining area equipped with cooking stoves, refrigeration, adequate counter space for food preparation and hot and cold running water
  • Provide clean sanitary facilities with separate facilities for men and women. Provide worker access devoid of unreasonable restrictions
  • In general, provide workers with easy access to food, sanitary food storage, fresh, clean, potable water, toilet and bath facilities and medical aid


Workers in manufacturing industries related to the fashion and textile industry deal with numerous chemicals every day. Labelling and registration of the chemicals are needed on a global scale to ensure that workers and companies are able to identify hazardous from safe chemicals and thereby guarantee a high level of protection for people and nature

Housing facilities and dormitories

  • Equip housing facilities and dormitories with conditions similar to those required in the workplace with regard to cleanliness, health and safety
  • Ensure that housing facilities meet national standards for living facilities
  • Equip dormitories with safety lockers
  • Provide all workers with their own individual bed
  • Do not place restrictions on the workers’ right to leave the dormitory outside of work hours
  • Set the rent in accordance with the local housing market, the workers’ salaries and the conditions of the facilities
  • Ensure that dormitories are in compliance with local and national housing laws and/or occupancy requirements, in addition to health and safety laws
  • Keep a record of investments or other initiatives made to improve the worker living conditions



More topics

Human rights
Freedom of association
Forced labour
Child labour
Working hours
Labour contracts
Sick leave
Grievance system
Occupational health and safety
Corruption and bribery
Monitoring and evaluation