Clothing Manufacturing Supply Chains, Contractual Layers and Hold Harmless Clauses: How OHS Duties Can Be Imposed over Retailers
Australian Journal of Labour Law, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 316-339, 2008
23 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2011
Date Written: April 7, 2011
To increase efficiencies, clothing retailers often outsource the manufacturing of products to traders. Traders pass on these time and cost pressures to outworkers who reportedly work in poor and unsafe working conditions. This article analyses whether existing occupational health and safety laws require retailers to take steps to manage outworkers’ labour conditions. First, the article considers how deemed employment laws which require traders to manage outworkers’ workplace safety may be able to be extended up supply chains to impose duties over retailers. Secondly, the article examines how employers’ OHS duties for non-employees may create OHS duties for retailers to ensure outworkers’ safety. It appears that imposing OHS duties across several corporate relationships and across geographical locations may diminish the capacity of retailers to manage outworkers. Thirdly, the article demonstrates how OHS duties only require parties to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure safety. Finally, the article analyses the capacity of retailers to utilise hold harmless clauses to avoid OHS duties.
Keywords: Clothing Manufacturing, OHS Supply Chains
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