Apple outlines Covid-19 supplier safety measures

15 May 2020

Apple has detailed changes it is making in order to support supply chain workers throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sabih Khan, senior vice president of operations, outlined the precautionary measures being implemented across Apple’s supply chain as part of its annual Supplier Responsibility Progess report

Khan said employees have “worked tirelessly” with its supply chain partners to ensure people are able to return to work safely. 

“First and foremost, that’s meant working with our suppliers around the world on a range of protections suited to the circumstances in each country, including health screenings, limiting density, and ensuring strict adherence to social distancing in their facilities.”

Personal protective equipment is required to be used during work and in all common areas. Apple has also worked with its suppliers to implement “enhanced deep cleaning protocols and deploy masks and sanitisers”, Khan explained.

“Our teams have also partnered with suppliers to redesign and reconfigure factory floorplans where needed and to implement flexible working hours – including staggered work shifts – to maximise interpersonal space,” he said.

“This pandemic has left no country untouched, and we want to thank all our suppliers around the world for their commitment, flexibility and care for their teams as we navigate Covid-19’s complex and rapidly evolving impacts. From the outset, we worked with our suppliers to develop and execute a plan that puts the health of people first.” 

The report also detailed the progress Apple made in 2019 on human rights and the environment. In 2019, the firm interviewed over 52,000 supplier employees on their workplace experiences and carried out 1,142 supplier assessments across 49 countries.

Apple acknowledged the impact of recruitment fees on employees, especially migrant workers. In 2019, it worked with the International Labour Organization to map the higher-risk migration corridors for foreign contract workers in its supply chain to “more deeply understand challenges at the source of labour recruitment”.

The firm said $1.3m of recruitment fees was repaid to 462 supply chain employees in 2019. 

The report added that over 1m annualised tonnes of supply chain greenhouse gas emissions had been prevented in 2019, a 119% year-on-year improvement from 2018. It was realised through combined efforts to avoid 779,605 tonnes of supplier energy-related emissions and 242,761 tonnes of supplier direct-process greenhouse gas emissions. 

“The environment we all share is fragile, and we are more dedicated than ever to fighting climate change and reducing emissions. Through strategic partnerships, we’re helping our suppliers shrink their carbon footprint and conserve precious resources, like water and energy. Green manufacturing is smart manufacturing, and, more broadly, we know what is good for the environment is also good for business,” Khan added.

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