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How Manufacturers in Mexico Can Avoid Fire and Safety Disasters

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The perils of manufacturing overseas at factories without adequate fire and workplace safety standards are risks that every CEO and compliance officer need to consider.

Last November, a deadly fire struck a Bangladesh textile factory, killing more than a hundred workers.  Yet many large U.S. companies were still caught unaware again last month when 1,200 workers were injured in a Bangladesh textile factory collapse. Two chilling, yet noteworthy, details to emerge from this latest tragedy are:

  • Police ordered the building evacuated the day before when cracks were found in the structure.
  • Several giant U.S. retailers said they were unaware production for their brands was being completed at the site because orders were shuttled through apparently murky sub-contract relationships in the Asian apparel industry.

Every product-maker wants to reap the rewards of manufacturing in a lower cost country. But when evaluating textile contract manufacturers, it’s imperative that before committing, businesses probe a factory’s social and human rights commitments, as well as safety records.

The reason: Large companies like Wal-Mart have the resources to hire outside auditing firms and invest in risky regions to implement and improve worker safety. But other manufacturers can be devastated by such a tragedy.

Mexico has built emergency workplace safety precautions and procedures into its maquiladora (or nearshore manufacturing and assembly) program.  In December 2010, Mexico’s Department of Labor and Social Welfare (“STPS” for its acronym in Spanish) updated its emergency safety standards (Nom-002-STPS-2010), requiring fire-detection and fire-extinguishing safety equipment on sites and mandatory evacuation routes, emergency exits, emergency stairs and safe places for workers.

Textile contract manufacturer MFI International also takes extra steps to enforce workplace safety in its assembly plants. Our policy complies with Mexico’s fire and safety standards, and it also requires employees to report malfunctions in electrical equipment that could lead to accidents. Emergency and fire evacuation procedures are practiced frequently.

The bottom line: When manufacturing products off-site, know your contract partner’s safety record and commitment, and where your contract manufacturers are completing your work.

MFI International has more than 30 years experience in contract assembly and manufacturing in Mexico support “shelter services”. For more information on safe and cost-effective manufacturing, call 866-918-2260.

To download an executive summary of Mexico’s Fire and Safety Standard Regulation click here:

Manufacturing in Mexico Fire and Safety Standards