Health and Safety Findings at Quanta, Mac and iPod Manufacturer
Last August the Fair Labor Association (FLA) conducted audits in two of Apple’s final assembly plants in China. These factories are both owned by Quanta–Tech-Com in Shanghai manufactures Mac computers and employs roughly 32,000 people and Tech-Full in Changshu manufactures iPods and employs nearly 5,000 people.
The findings from these audits were released today, one day after Apple’s announcement to ban benzene and n-hexane from final assembly or “first-tier” suppliers. Putting aside these two chemicals, the audit findings bring to light a number of other serious health and safety concerns that exist in the Chinese mega-factories in which Apple manufactures its products. While Apple has spent the past year putting “corrective action plans” in place for the findings, a number of major issues, particularly concerning worker hours, worker compensation, worker representation on environmental health and safety (EHS) committees, and chemical risk remain issues in these factories.
Here is a summary of some of the Health and Safety findings:
Tech-Com (Quanta Shanghai)
No. 68, Sanzhuang Rd., Songjiang Export Processing Zone, Shanghai, China
Poor Air Quality
The scope of indoor air quality testing was not compliant with the local authority’s requirements. The testing scope missed several significant occupational hazards. Additionally, while isopropyl alcohol was widely in use, there was not an exhaust ventilation system provided. Finally, there was no extraction system provided for the heat seal packaging machines, which adversely effects the air quality in the working environment.
Insufficient Protective Gear
Most of the protective masks currently in use were not certified, as per legal requirements, and were not assessed for their effectiveness against VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Additionally, the emergency shower and eyewash in the chemical warehouse were not designed for easy access and use in case of emergency.
Insufficient Chemical Safety Information
50% of the MSDS (material safety data sheets) for chemical substances in use were incomplete or had unreliable information about chemicals, ingredients, and chemical composition.
Improper Storage of Hazardous Materials
The chemical storage sections in production areas are not totally isolated from offices and rest areas. Additionally, some flammable/toxic substances were stored under chairs, on desk, and under assembly lines.
Auditors were not granted access to the entire site; therefor the risk assessment for occupational hazard control was not completed in all labs and buildings.
Tech-Full (Quanta ChangShu)
No. 8, JinZhou Rd., Hightech Industrial park, Changshu Economic Development Zone, Changshu, Jiangsu, China
Insufficient Chemical Safety Information & Monitoring
The factory was adequately monitoring occupation hazard risks in the following instances:
- Only 9 major chemicals were included in this assessment. Several significant occupational hazards were not identified in the risk assessment for occupational hazard control (e.g., organic tin, methanol);
- 16 out of 25 chemicals with significant occupational hazards were not included in the risk assessment scope;
- There was no lab analysis of chemical ingredients, especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs), to determine the scope of occupational hazards when Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) were incomplete.
- 80% of the MSDS for chemical substances in use were incomplete or had unreliable information about chemicals, ingredients, or the chemical composition of the contents.
- Only dust, isopropyl alcohol (IPA), cyclohexane, xylene were identified as occupational hazards and measured annually. The other 10+ occupational hazards were not monitored or measured (e.g. organic tin, methanol).
Poor Air Quality
The local exhaust ventilation pipes were not used or maintained properly. This has an adverse effect on indoor air quality. Additionally, the scope of indoor air quality testing was not compliant with local authority’s requirements. The testing scope missed several significant occupational hazards and the report does not include important information (product, number/type of machines running during the test, raw material detail, etc.) that may have a direct effect on test results.
FLA auditors were not granted access to conduct an assessment for occupational hazard control in Buildings C1 and C2.
To read the detailed assessments for each Quanta factory please see FLA’s website.