Fire Safety a Key Focus in SA8000 Revision

The SA8000 Standard and Guidance revision will provide considerably more specifics on fire safety.

March 11, 2013

The SA8000 Standard and  Guidance Document are currently being reviewed and amended, a revision process conducted every 5 years. Similar to the 2008 SA8000 Standard revision process, extensive multi-stakeholder consultations and review will take place. SAI invites your feedback and participation.

Fire safety will undoubtedly be a key focus in the upcoming revision - as part of the 'Health & Safety' element and provisions in the Management System element. Already major changes have taken place. As a result of a series of tragic fires in Pakistan and Bangladesh, SAI and SAAS in their respective roles have each undertaken a deep look at the entire system and each identified, and decided upon, extensive revisions and changes. SAI is the owner of the SA8000 Standard and SAAS serves as the oversight accreditation body for the SA8000 certification system.  

On October 9-11, 2012, SAI convened its semi-annual multi-stakeholder Advisory Board meeting. Five key areas for improvement to the SA8000 system were defined and prioritized: 

  1. Fire safety training and capacity building to enhance auditor competency 
  2. SA8000 audit quality control 
  3. Auditor competency and training 
  4. Stakeholder engagement
  5. Minimizing the risk of corruption

Based on the Advisory Board recommendations, SAI contracted with SAAS to further investigate, design and implement system changes in the five key areas listed above. These specific changes have been made by SAAS. 

Fire Safety Training and Capacity Building to Enhance Auditor Competency:

  • Completion of SAI's fire safety webinar is required of all SA8000 auditors by May 1, 2013 in order to maintain qualifications as an SA8000 or BSCI auditor.
  • Development of requirements for checking a company's legal incorporation and fire and safety inspections, verifying with authorities.
  • Development of a fire safety checklist for SA8000 auditor use, based on the ILO checklist.
  • Issue of more clarity and performance indicators in the requirements for fire safety for the SA8000 system, e.g.:
    • Required push bar/non-lockable exit doors for emergency evacuation.
    • Implementation of fire drills during audits.

SA8000 Audit Quality Control:

  • Activities and oversight of the SA8000-certified organizations:
    • Increased frequency of SA8000 surveillance audits in 'high-risk' and 'highest-risk' countries (as determined by the country risk assessment process developed by SAAS, based on the World Bank Governance Indicators and other factors) 
    • Increased frequency of unannounced SA8000 audits in 'high-risk' and 'highest-risk' countries.
    • Increased frequency of off-site worker interviews during all SA8000 audits.
  • Oversight of the SA8000 audit system by SAAS
    • Implement a country risk assessment process for determining increased oversight and certification processes.
    • Increased frequency of oversight of certification bodies (CBs) in 'high-risk' and 'highest-risk' countries.  
    • Expand use of supplemental accreditation oversight methods: 'Market Surveillance Visits', duplicate audits and/or unannounced audits.
    • Prohibit SA8000 activity in countries where no SAAS accreditation audit teams can travel.

Auditor Competency & Training - Oversight and Activities by and within the CB Structure:

  • Increased requirements for oversight within the certification body of its own auditors and audit systems.
  • Prohibit use of subcontractors (outsourcing) by CBs in 'highest risk' countries.
  • Prohibit certifications in countries where a CB is unable to get senior management to travel.

Stakeholder Engagement:

  • Specified additional local stakeholder engagement by CBs: face-to-face meetings, annual meetings, engagement at initial and recent and surveillances.

Minimizing the Risk of Corruption:

  • Required rotation of SA8000 auditors.
  • Required implementation of an Anti-Corruption Policy by all CBs.
  • Required additional oversight for certified companies located in 'high-risk' and 'highest-risk' countries, as per the country risk assessment, taking into account Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.

In April 2013, SAI will issue a public report about Ali Enterprises, system-wide actions that have been taken and implications for SA8000 certification. The report will describe the process behind the changes to the SA8000 Guidance and potential changes to the SA8000 Standard going forward.