Issues Health Safety & Environment

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is part of the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs’ PREP4Change (P4C) initiative, which aims to improve occupational health and safety conditions for workers in the apparel sector in El Salvador and the agriculture sector in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Key to P4C’s approach is the establishment of Centers of Excellence for occupational health best practices. The centers serve as both research sites and educational platforms, and demonstrate to the agricultural and textile industries how to responsibly and adequately address occupational health challenges.

FLA has been collaborating with main P4C grantee La Isla Network (LIN), as well as other key partners and stakeholders, since the project began in December 2021.

FLA’s Role: Apparel Sector in El Salvador

FLA is responsible for executing PREP4Change’s work in El Salvador’s garment industry, where it works with suppliers, workers, trade unions, civil society organizations, private sector organizations, governmental authorities, and companies.

Two Fair Labor Accredited companies—adidas and New Balance—participate in the program through a Tier 1 supplier that is becoming the Center for Excellence for the apparel sector in El Salvador. The supplier factory is a key partner in project implementation and has provided access to two of its production plants for a deep Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) risk assessment led by occupational safety experts.

The OSH risk assessment, conducted between June 2023 and February 2024, investigated risk agents including biomechanical risks, noise levels, temperature, health stress, and particulate matter in the air, among others.

As the project progresses, FLA will work collaboratively with the factory and local stakeholders to develop and implement sustainable solutions to improve workers’ OSH conditions and prevent, mitigate, and remediate workplace illness and injuries.

Project Objectives

  1. Work with employers, workers, and government institutions to increase prevention, mitigation, and remediation of workplace illness and injuries; 
  2. Increase the use of existing social protection systems by workers and families impacted by workplace illnesses and injuries; and 
  3. Increase preparedness of employers, unions, and government institutions for future pandemics and emerging illnesses and injuries.

Project Activities

  1. Occupational Health Conditions: Assess the occupational hazards to which workers in the garment industry are exposed due to the task requirements, work environment, job design, physical and chemical environmental agents or psychosocial elements.
  2. Return on Investment: Determine the economic impact/benefits to the company and the socioeconomic impact on workers and their families from investment in workers’ health and safety in the workplace.
  3. Organizational Analysis: Evaluate the organizational circumstances in factory regarding OHS risk prevention, from the individual and group perspectives of the employer, employees, and other relevant stakeholders, to identify possible barriers and opportunities in the implementation of interventions within P4C.
  4. Identification of the Legal Framework: Study the various processes within El Salvador’s legal framework that workers can use to access health services in case of a work-related accident or occupational illness, along with the factory internal procedures.
  5. Mitigation through the Center of Excellence: Implement interventions to prevent, mitigate or eliminate the most relevant occupational risks in the industry and became a model for others.