Apart from child labor, another form of human rights violation that is prevalent in the supply chain of technology industry is the lack of a safer working environment (Bishop, 2012). Notably, most of the suppliers of technology companies in third world countries fail to provide their workers with safety equipment such as gloves and masks, thus exposing them to different hazardous compounds. In reference to the Institute for Human Rights and Business (2011), the ICT sector is challenged in the sense that its manufacturing and production processes in its supply chain have high chances of creating a hazardous working environment for its employees. For example, due to lack of safety equipment, workers could be exposed to minerals that have a negative impact on their health. This is affirmed by Kelly (2016) who observes that workers in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo have no safety equipment and are constantly exposed to health hazards from cobalt mineral. Apart from expose to hazardous substances, the Institute for Human Rights and Business (2011) observe that some suppliers in the ICT sector often mistreat their employees through long working hours, harassment and torture both physically and mentally. For example, Apple, Inc. (2016) observe that one of the challenges in its supply chain is embedded in the fact that some of the suppliers have long working schedules that undermine the rights of their employees to rest. Note that long working hours undermines the workers’ ability to concentrate and as such, it increases their chances of getting injured at the workplace. This violation has adverse effects on their rights as human beings and could have a lifetime effect on their lives.
Importantly, one of the critical issues that emerges from the analysis of child labor and lack of safer working environment as human rights violation reveal that most firm in the supply chain focus more on keeping the cost of operations low as a way to enhance their competitiveness and profits on the globe market. Furthermore, it is important to observe that the initial stages of productions and manufacturing of different components of technology products is one of the main stages that has serious violation of human rights. For example, whereas companies such as Apple, Inc. are implementing measures to eradicate human rights abuses in their supply chain, such violations are still persistent at the foundation stages of the supply chain.
In order to address child labor problems, multinational corporations in the technology sector need to implement zero tolerance policies that prohibit child labor by enacting agreements with their suppliers that such violations will be met with consequences such as termination of their contracts. In reference to Nolan (2015), the zero tolerance to child labor in the supply chain of multinational corporations is capable of eradicating child labor since any association of such corporation with child labor often contributes to negative global publicity and as such, undermines their ability to make profits and grow as a business. Apart from this, multinational corporations can force their suppliers who are found abusing the rights of children through child labor to return such children to their homes and cater for their needs such as education, shelter, clothing and food until such children reach the legal working age.
Similarly, with regard to creating a safe working environment for workers in their supply chain, multinational corporations need to formulate and implement policies in their supply chain that define what a safe working environment is, as well as how it can be improved over time. Importantly, rather than just dictating in policies on the importance of a safe working environment, these corporations can work with their suppliers to create such an environment. For instance, these corporations can help supply safety equipment such as aprons, eyewear and gloves. In addition these corporations in collaboration with their suppliers can work on implementing working terms that are favorable to their employees. For instance, Apple, Inc. has formulated policies for its suppliers with regard to the working hours of their employees, whereby workers of their suppliers cannot work for more than 55 hours a week (Apple, Inc., 2016). The enactment of such policies should be coupled with regular impromptu visits to their suppliers’ manufacturing and production plants to ensure that they are being enforced. For example, Salcito et al. (2013) observe that through regular assessment of the working environment of suppliers, multinational corporations can be able to not only ensure no human rights violations exist but also such assessment provide a platform for standardization of the work environment safety standards in their supply chain.