High level of factory fire risk in European supply chains is worrying, say consultants

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A new report, which shows European supply chains have the highest level of factory fire risk highlights a worrying but unsurprising revelation, says supply chain consultancy, Crimson & Co.

The report, published today by the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX) found while only 6.6% of African supply chains fail to comply with safety measures, 13.5% of European supply chains fail to comply with safety measures, “signifying a global issue which isn’t reserved for non-European countries, as many may assume,” said Tom Woodham, director of leading end-to-end supply chain consultancy, Crimson & Co.

“Supply chain failures due to fire have been frequent in the news recently, from clothing factories in Bangladesh to the Hynix chip factory in Korea, but we rarely hear of issues in European countries.

“Supply chain and procurement directors need to ensure their supply chains have taken appropriate risk management actions, which can be very difficult in today’s global supply chains. A robust risk management approach needs to go to both first and second tier suppliers and look at both issues that can cause technical problems and social responsibility issues.

“Any approach should be based upon a solid risk model to ensure that resources are targeted in the most appropriate way. A robust supplier audit process can then be established, made up of both planned and ‘surprise’ visits to ensure that suppliers are reviewed in line with their risk profile. It may also be appropriate to work with some sort of industry wide accreditation system allowing everyone to share the cost and benefits of such an approach.”

The report found the top five most prevalent fire safety non-compliances in supplier sites across the world include: missing or inadequate exit signage and functioning emergency lighting; blocked aisles / and fire exits; and fire-fighting equipment inadequately installed or missing.

“There is no excuse for non-complying supply chains. As complexity increases, it is easy to forget about key considerations along the chain, but organisations need to ensure they carry out robust risk assessments to avoid such damaging issues coming to light,” said Woodham.