How to Reduce HSE Risks in the Furniture Industry

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For those familiar with the furniture industry, it is no secret that reducing health risks and ensuring compliance with health and safety standards is one of the most important challenges for companies that work with suppliers in the sector. This is reflected in high accident rates and conditions that are not ideal for manual work.

Other aspects of social compliance are no different. At times, the furniture industry can be subject to unacceptable violations such as irresponsible recruitment or violation of workers’ rights.

As a buyer,  you need a transparent and diligent supply chain to be able to address this. Hence, implementing an audit and compliance program to assess compliance with social, health, and safety standards in suppliers around the world is a priority.

Causes of occupational and health and safety risks

Furniture work has risks that are inherent to the trade. The production and manufacturing of furniture are characterized by three typical elements:

  1. manual handling,
  2. the use of substances that can be harmful to health (wood dust, lacquers, paints, and glues), and
  3. noise in the environment.

With these health and safety risks in the furniture industry in mind, it is important to implement effective preventative measures including:

  • the use of personal protective equipment by all factory workers,
  • training employees on the proper handling of complex and heavy machinery,
  • establishing safety procedures that comply with all rules and regulations regarding fire, electrical, chemical as well as environmental safety.

1. Causes of nonconformance with social compliance standards

Factories employing child labor, managing irregular working hours, providing extremely low wages, and carrying procedures that are not contemplated by the law are just a few of the usual social compliance issues. The main cause is the lack of rigorous compliance standards or measures.

It is key that organizations work with suppliers that have effective systems which meet appropriate conditions for their workers. Suppliers need to be aware of and actively implement policies and procedures to avoid child labor and forced labor and to provide appropriate conditions for young and other vulnerable groups of workers.

2. Audit and compliance programs to reduce risk in the furniture industry

The point of departure for any organization looking to improve supplier performance is to assess the compliance-related strengths and weaknesses of the supplier and initiate an audit and compliance program.

  • Health and safety risks

ISO 45001 is the apex of the evolution of global occupational health and safety standards and can help your organization or your suppliers demonstrate compliance with laws related to health and safety. The ISO 45001 standard, which builds on, improves upon, and has replaced the well-known OHSAS 18001establishes the minimum standards to protect employees worldwide.

Pro QC’s ISO 45001 audit is a one-day on-site audit covering the main criteria of the ISO standard. Our auditors analyze characteristics such as i) context of the organization, ii) leadership and worked participation, iii) planning, iv) support, v) operation, vi) performance evaluation, and vii) improvement.

Establishing an ISO 45001 compliant framework increases safety, reduces risks in the workplace, and improves the well-being of workers in any organization. This is a standard that can be applied to any organization and is as relevant as other quality management or environmental management standards.

  • Social Compliance

SA8000 is a general-purpose standard of choice in social compliance and applicable to the furniture industry. The standard includes child labor, working hours, compliance with salary conditions, forced labor, among its safety criteria. Whether you choose SA8000 or an alternative, these standards usually include criteria to evaluate basic aspects of occupational health and safety.

Pro QC’s SA 8000 audit is a 3-to-5-day on-site audit, depending on the size of the supplier. The analysis covers conformance to i) child labor, ii) forced or compulsory labor, iii) health and safety, iv) freedom of association, v) discrimination, vi) disciplinary practices, vii) working hours, viii) remuneration, and ix) management system.

  • Health, Safety and Social Responsibility of New Suppliers

Pro QC’s proprietary social responsibility offering is a one-day audit developed specifically for organizations currently in the process of qualifying new suppliers. This specialized audit covers criteria such as i) compliance with laws, ii) child labor, iii) working hours, iv) wages and benefits, v) health and safety, vi) non-discrimination, vii) coercion and harassment, viii) freely chosen labor, and ix) environment.

  • Corrective Action & ongoing compliance monitoring

Once an audit has been carried out and any non-conformities have been identified, buyers may decide to search for new suppliers or work with suppliers to carry out improvements by:

  1. Establishing a corrective action plan.
  2. Verifying correctives action through detailed follow-up activities.
  3. Scheduling subsequent visits based on the risk level of the factory and/or supplier.

Pro QC is here to support and guide both you and your suppliers every step of the way with our supplier management services. In the long run, an audit and compliance program will allow the brand to maintain a positive image, high performance, and, above all, a socially responsible production process.

Download free audit sample reports here: To learn more about our health & safety and social compliance in the furniture industry, visit our website or contact us anytime at

For other Pro QC offerings relating to Quality Management System Audits, Social and Ethical Compliance, Environmental Compliance, and Manufacturing Process Audits, among others.

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