Despite monitoring, some clothing companies are still finding slavery in their supply chain
Despite monitoring, some clothing companies are still finding slavery in their supply chain

How to conduct a successful factory audit - 17-point checklist

19 February 2016

Want to make sure your factory audits get to the heart of the issues? Here’s how:

  • Make any-time audits a mandatory requirement in supplier contracts.
  • Identify those areas of the business and suppliers that pose the greatest risk, and prioritise these.
  • Define clearly the purpose of any audit and what will be assessed.
  • Establish whether to conduct audits in-house or outsource to a third-party. Accompany any potential audit suppliers on an audit, to examine their processes.
  • Visit high-risk suppliers regularly and insist on unrestricted access to the sites. Take someone who speaks the local language and understands the local culture with you.
  • Insist on seeing the different stages of the manufacturing process, and check the items being produced are those that will end up in your organisation. Remember to include warehouses.
  • Be sure to test the quality of finished products, watching out for potential substitution of ingredients or use of non-specified parts or materials.
  • Score supplier performance and track this over time.
  • Consider how far down the supply chain it is feasible to go, and whose responsibility auditing second and third-tier suppliers should be.
  • Consider sharing information with other customers or procurement teams.
  • If an audit highlights concerns, work with suppliers to improve conditions and processes.
  • Talk to workers and local groups or academics who can alert you to potential issues or practices that you may not know about.
  • Check identity documents and ensure these are genuine.
  • Check there are policies in place on worker protection, fire prevention and environmental requirements, like how much waste is produced at the site.
  • Does the factory respect and comply with local laws on working hours.
  • Look at lists of employees to ensure that they meet age requirements, and
    do random checks on ID cards.
  • Conduct spot-checks on employee contracts to ensure workers have them.
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