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Working Conditions

Health & Safety

GRI G4 Content Index

In line with our commitment to ensure our employees’ well-being and health, occupational health and safety is a top priority at Gildan. It is an integral part of our business practices, as highlighted throughout our Global Health and Safety Policy. As repetitive movements are an inherent part of our manufacturing process and can lead to discomfort and possibly injuries, Gildan has implemented measures to improve our ergonomic practices at all our facilities, with a goal of mitigating worker discomfort and preventing workplace injuries.

In 2015, for the third consecutive year, Gildan was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index of which health and safety is an important factor. In fact, Gildan had the best score in the Textiles, Apparel & Luxury Goods industry for the occupational health and safety category. In 2008, Gildan implemented an internal health and safety performance scorecard (Global Safety Scorecard) in order to keep track of work-related injuries as well as their severity. The scorecard covers all Gildan-owned facilities and contains data related to first aid, injuries, lost-time accidents, musculo-skeletal disorders, lost work hours, work days, injury and severity rates.

The injury and severity rate indicators are based on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) principles. The injury rate indicator is used to show how many accidents occurred in a 200,000 hour work period while the severity rate indicator shows the gravity of the accidents during the same amount of hours worked. This severity rate is based on the number of lost days, which is an indicator of the severity of any accident.

On a global scale, 2015 saw a decrease in injury and severity rates down by 20% and 3% respectively when compared to the previous year. Injury and severity rates decreased by 48% for both rates when compared to our 2010 baseline year. The decrease in both rates can be attributed to increased efforts to improve employee awareness which were deployed in 2015 as well as the implementation of preventive measures.

Gildan’s health and safety policies and procedures have been fully integrated at the recently acquired Gildan Apparel Canada and Comfort Colors facilities in Canada and the United States respectively.

All Gildan-owned textile facilities have built-in fire safety systems, such as sprinkler systems (with the exception of our Bangladesh facility where a fire hose system is in place), emergency exits and fire alarms, among other safety items. Furthermore, fire drills are performed at least twice per year at all facilities.

Each job in the manufacturing and distribution operations has a job safety risk analysis which has been performed in accordance with the OHSAS 18000 standard. This analysis identifies the critical safety aspects of each job. This helps determine the training, experience, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to safely perform the job.

Board of Directors oversight of Health and Safety

Employee Health and Safety is part of the agenda for the Compensation and Human Resources Committee of the Board of Directors each quarter. The Committee reviews and discusses the quarterly Global Safety Scorecard, reviews the overall Company trends over the past 12 months, compares the key metrics (accident frequency rate and severity rate) to industry averages, and discusses important Health and Safety topics such as reviewing any progress in regard to corrective action plans in certain facilities.

The Compensation and Human Resources Committee sets the overall plan each fiscal year and prioritizes the areas of focus. For example, if the Company begins to operate with new equipment or technology in an area in which we have no expertise, the Committee will ask for an analysis of best practices in this field and approve the approach. Most recently, this occurred as part of the Company's further vertical integration into yarn-spinning.

Each fiscal year, health and safety targets are established for each of Gildan’s global operations. These targets are generally 10-20% lower than the previous year’s results as we aim for continuous improvement. Management in each facility (plant managers through supervisor) has employee health and safety as a large part of their annual operating objectives which determines their annual bonus. In addition, Vice-presidents in manufacturing and distribution operations review safety with plant managers and the local safety manager/coordinator on a monthly basis to measure results and trends for each facility and discuss best practices from other locations.

Focus for 2016

In order to continue to enhance our current practices, the Health and Safety priorities for 2016 will be as follows:

  • Objective to reduce the work-related injury and severity rates by a minimum of 10% at the global level.
  • As part of our continuous improvement process, in 2016 we will be retaining a third-party to verify our health and safety data. This will provide stakeholders additional confidence that Gildan has reliable and robust health and safety data. This exercise will also help analyze data trends.
  • As part of the Human Resources strategic plan, a number of key initiatives have been identified. These include a health and safety summit to share best practices and provide updates on the various health and safety metrics. As well, this meeting will assess the opportunity to leverage some of our current programs on a global scale and harmonize what currently exists across all locations.

Data based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calculations.
(Total Amount of Accidents/Total Work Hours) X 200,000
Factor 200,000 is derived from 50 working weeks at 40 hours per 100 employees.


Data based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calculations.
(Total Lost Days/Total Work Hours) X 200,000
Factor 200,000 is derived from 50 working weeks at 40 hours per 100 employees.

  • Health & Safety Key Performance Indicator

    To measure the performance of manufacturing facilities, Gildan has developed a health and safety indicator which consolidates three of our most important safety programs: accident prevention, safety preventive observations and ergonomics. Some of the targets that are evaluated within this program include: number of recordable accidents, safety awareness campaigns, number of safety preventive observations, and implementation of ergonomic training plan and analysis of ergonomic risks, among others. Depending on the results obtained by each facility for each target, an overall score is calculated.

    The health and safety indicator will be monitored on a quarterly basis to measure performance throughout the year.

  • Health and Safety Committees

    Formal Health and Safety Committees, composed of managers, supervisors and production workers have been established at all Gildan-owned facilities and many of our administration offices and distribution centers. These committees meet once a month to discuss preventive measures to be implemented at their corresponding location.

    The committees also review any health and safety accidents that may have occurred during the reviewed period and suggest improvements to our health and safety programs. These improvements are implemented by Health and Safety Managers who are also responsible for developing related procedures at our sewing and textile operations.

    Health and Safety committees are also responsible for performing employee training, as well as carrying out regular fire and safety drills.

    In 2015, 95% of Gildan employees were represented by formal health and safety committees.

  • Health and Safety in Bangladesh

    Gildan owns an integrated textile and sewing facility located near Dhaka, Bangladesh. This facility was purchased in March 2010 as a strategic initiative to service the Company’s growing European and Asian businesses.

    Since the time of the acquisition, we have successfully implemented our Code of Conduct and Environmental Code of Practice both of which are cornerstones of our Genuine Stewardship program. We have invested heavily in this facility in order to bring it up to par with our other facilities in Central America, the Caribbean Basin, the U.S. and Canada These investments include the installation of external fire escapes, the construction of a new water-treatment plant and the replacement/upgrade of other equipment required to bring this facility up to Gildan’s global standards.

    As part of the due diligence process carried out prior to the acquisition of this facility, Gildan hired a U.S.-based engineering firm to perform a physical assessment of the property and its buildings. As a result of their findings, considerable resources were allocated to reinforce the building’s structure with structural steel and reinforced concrete. In addition, our Bangladesh building is audited by safety and loss prevention specialists on an annual basis.

    Our employees’ health and safety continue to be of paramount importance to us. In light of the Tazreen Fashions Ltd. and Rana Plaza tragedies that occurred in Bangladesh in recent years, Gildan remains confident that the actions undertaken in our Bangladesh facility best ensure the health and safety of our employees.

    The facility has an emergency response brigade team which is comprised of 240 employees. One recent fire drill at our facility in Bangladesh resulted in the successful evacuation of four floors of employees in a span of six minutes.

    In July 2014, Gildan was also inspected under the ACCORD program for electrical and fire safety, and forbuilding structure safety in August 2014. In February 2016, the ACCORD conducted its follow-up audit and we are currently waiting for the result of this audit. Based on the report received by the ACCORD resulting from the follow-up inspection, there are some items that we felt had been fully remediated, but the report did not reflect complete remediation for these items. In addition, it is also important to point out that many of the outstanding non-compliances do not originate from the ACCORD’s initial inspection but were rather added subsequently as new non-compliances during follow-up on-site visits. In order to better understand the disconnect, we reached out to the ACCORD on March 30, 2016 to have a discussion with them regarding the status of remediation and in order to clear-up any disconnect. After hearing back from the ACCORD, our local team in Bangladesh promptly met with the ACCORD on April 18, 2016 in order to go through each un-remediated item and reconcile what is still outstanding in order to fully remediate all pending items. Resulting from this meeting, the ACCORD acknowledged our remediation status and updated the corrective action plans (CAPs). Remediated non-compliances are now labeled as pending verification rather than in progress. Based on the updated CAPs, Shahriyar Fabric Industries now has a remediation rate of 69% for structural building safety, 88% for electrical safety and 67% for fire safety. Following this meeting, Gildan agreed with the ACCORD on next steps and a revised timeline for the pending non-compliances. The ACCORD plans to conduct the on-site follow-up inspection in the next few weeks in order to complete the verification of all pending non-compliances.

    During 2015, injury and severity rates decreased by 44% (from 0.34 to 0.19) and 62% (from 1.07 to 0.41) respectively at this facility.

  • Health and Safety Training

    Each year, Gildan provides a number of health and safety training sessions to employees at all levels at all of its facilities. These sessions include:

    • General safety rules
    • Inspection check sheets
    • Emergency response and first aid
    • Evacuation and rescue procedures
    • Forklift security
    • Industrial security training
    • Fire control and prevention
    • Ear protection and back safety
    • Extinguisher use
    • Hazardous waste management
    • Work permit/lock-out/tag-out
    • Personal protective equipment
    • Electrical hazards
    • Spill response
    • Working at heights
    • Chemical identification and use
    • Accident reporting and investigation

    Approximately 397,355 man-hours of training on health and safety were conducted in 2015. In 2015, a group of employees from our facilities in Central America and the Caribbean basin were trained on the Safety Training Observation Program (STOP) in order to promote safety and reduce accidents at all of our facilities in these locations. More than 2,000 employees were trained in STOP, representing over 3,600 man-hours of training. The training helped sensitize employees to safety hazards, resulting in over 8,200 preventive observations submitted by employees in 2015.

    Also, following the acquisition of the Comfort Colors facilities, all of the staff was trained on Gildan’s health and safety standards. The objective of these training sessions was to implement Gildan's Health and Safety Management System in a consistent manner throughout all company owned facilities. Gildan Apparel Canada employees will be trained in 2016.

    Amongst others initiatives , Gildan Apparel Canada’s health and safety culture was built by training all plant supervisors on accident case management, establishing safety rules and guidelines to all employees, and introducing monthly workplace inspections.

    In addition, more than 28,400 employees from our facilities in Central America and the Caribbean basin were trained in ergonomics by medical, EHS and other staff members in 2015. These training sessions were part of the implementation of our Ergonomics program.

    For more details on this program, please click here.

  • Health and Safety Compliance Performance

    All Gildan-owned facilities are subject to specific health and safety audits. These audits are performed on a regular basis by in-house safety coordinators and internal corporate social responsibility auditors, in addition to external social compliance auditors.

    Health and Safety Audits are conducted at All Gildan-owned Facilities as follows:

    • Textile facilities: Every two weeks
    • Sewing facilities: Once per month
    • Ergonomics
    • Cafeteria sanitary conditions
    • Facility safety
    • Maintenance and condition of equipment
    • Labelling and maintenance of chemicals
    • Housekeeping

  • Local initiatives

    At Gildan, we are proud of the fact that numerous programs are developed and implemented at our locations with the goal of improving our employees’ awareness of general health issues, thus contributing to their overall well-being. These initiatives are designed to address the specific needs of our employees according to their geographic location.


    Staying Informed about Health and Safety

    Our employees receive health and safety information through various means of communication depending on their location: bulletins, flyers, emails, meetings, Gildan TV and notifications from health care partners.


    Continuous Improvements in Environment, Health and Safety

    In 2015, following the acquisition of Gildan Apparel Canada (formerly Doris) as well as Comfort Colors, the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) staff were trained on Gildan’s environment, health and safety policies and procedures, in order to standardize practices throughout our facilities.


    Cafeteria Certifications

    In keeping with our commitment to providing employees with clean and hygienic cafeteria services, Gildan is implementing a food safety program (Programa Alimentos Seguros or PAS) at all cafeterias in Honduras. The program provides Gildan with useful tools for continuously improving the quality of its cafeterias and employee satisfaction with the facilities, while reducing cafeteria personnel absenteeism due to food-transmitted outbreaks or diseases.

    Through this program, Gildan has benefitted from consulting services provided by AgroBioTek Internacional, the organization responsible for the development of the program. This was complemented by training sessions on food handling, with the objectives of informing cafeteria personnel of their respective roles with regard to food safety. Food service employees were coached on the auditing process to be able to quickly detect non-conformities and understand how to implement corrective actions in accordance with international standards.

    All our facilities in Honduras and Nicaragua, except the San Antonio facility in Honduras and Annic sewing facility in Nicaragua have a valid gold certification confirming that they are compliant with international standards in terms of hygienic food handling. The gold certification is the highest level that can be reached within the program. The remaining facilities, Annic and San Antonio, will apply for the certification in 2016.

    This year, the Star facility in Honduras received the certification. The AKH facility in Honduras is currently implementing the program and is expected to receive their certification over the course of 2016. Their certification was delayed due to a change in their cafeteria service supplier.

    New cafeteria in Bangladesh

    April 13, 2014 marked the beginning of a new year in Bangladesh. The local management organized a special lunch for the employees to celebrate the occasion, which was held in the newly renovated cafeteria at our integrated textile and sewing facility in Bangladesh. Representing an investment of approximately $40,000, the cafeteria is now comfortable, spacious and well-equipped, where employees can enjoy their meals. Following the local traditions, the cafeteria was decorated with New Year’s paraphernalia for the occasion.

    Health Care Programs

    In most of the countries in which we operate, public and private healthcare programs are often inadequate. To make up for deficiencies in the social security systems (which includes access to medical care), Gildan physicians at each facility have analyzed public health tendencies of common illnesses (including influenza, HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases, dengue, and conjunctivitis) found in the countries in which we operate. Based on the findings, Gildan has implemented preventive programs for employees that include awareness tools such as presentations, bulletin board postings, brochures, and loud speaker announcements.

    For instance, at our facilities in Central America and the Caribbean Basin, we implemented a preventive program for respiratory illnesses, which are the most common illnesses in these regions, due to their tropical climates. In Nicaragua, during 2012, a preventive program was implemented on leptospirosis since an increase in reported cases has been noted in the country.

    In 2012, in order to further enhance our health care programs, seven additional doctors from Honduras were trained on occupational health by the Investigation and Health Studies Center of the Universidad Autónoma de Nicaragua. A total of 13 doctors have been trained to deliver this program, which is coordinated by the Honduran Social Security Institute.

    Presently, 9 doctors and 9 nurses were certified as Occupational Hearing Conservationists (OHCs) in Honduras by the Occupational Hearing Conservation Accreditation Council (CAOHC), an organization dedicated to providing consumer safety and protection by training and accrediting those working to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. During the course of 2015, 9,477 audiometric tests were performed and 3,494 audiometric annual tests were conducted as part of the Hearing Conservation Program.

    Health Days

    Central America and the Caribbean Basin

    We have been organizing health fairs at our Honduran facilities since 2007 and in Nicaragua since 2009. During these events, many organizations join Gildan’s medical staff to provide our employees with information on various medical conditions, nutrition and other healthcare-related topics. They also receive important information on medical treatment for issues related to diabetes, orthopedics, auditory examinations, dental, ophthalmological and gynecological care, among others.

    In 2015, over 1,193 employees and their families in Honduras and the Dominican Republic received free medical attention at the Company’s organized health fairs. In addition, as part of the Company’s continued support of our employees’ well-being, a Dental Health Day was organized at two of our facilities in Honduras with odontology students from the Honduras National University. The campaign lasted a full day, allowing employees of all working shifts to participate.

    There were 1,439 employees and family members who participated in the program, which included information sessions on the prevention of tooth deterioration as well as free dental care such as dental inspection, cleaning and fluoride applications. Gildan covered all the expenses of the dental treatments, representing an amount of approximately $1,000.

    As hypertension is a common health condition in Honduras, during the month of June, a campaign for hypertension detection and treatment took place at two of our facilities in Honduras. Gildan doctors presented employees with information on high blood pressure prevention and care and made informational brochures available. A total of 296 employees in Central America and the Caribbean basin with hypertension received medical support over the course of 2015, whereby doctors monitored their health condition. In addition, 66 employees with diabetes received similar medical support.


    A health campaign focused on orthopedics was held at our Bangladesh integrated facility in April. Physiotherapy and informative sessions regarding orthopedics were offered by specialized therapists free of charge to over 200 employees. The total cost of the campaign was approximately $1,500.

    North America

    In 2015. the Human Resources department in Charleston organized a health fair for employees at our Charleston office. Various vendors and care providers including chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, otologists and nutritionists among others, were present to showcase their products and services. Employees were given the opportunity to schedule quick appointments on site with specialists for basic consultations.

    Most vendors participating in the health fair are connected to our Charleston office’s group insurance provider and contributed various health products and gift certificates for a raffle held during the event.

    Women’s Health

    In Honduras, our health care teams educate female employees to be able to recognize signs of cervical cancer, and provide free testing to those who wish to be tested. Between the first campaign in 2007 and the end of 2015, 4,551 female employees have undergone cytology tests. This test was made available through a partnership between Gildan and the Honduran government, which donated the equipment required for this test.

    Gildan continues to support this campaign every year in Central America and the Caribbean by providing all female employees with cytology tests at no cost. In 2015, more than 1,109 female employees at our facilities in Honduras were able to get their Pap smears and mammograms at no charge as part of this program.

    Gildan’s Pink Tour: Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign

    Since 2010, our Central America and Caribbean facilities have developed an internal breast cancer awareness campaign called the Gildan's Pink Tour, which takes place in October. In 2014, all Gildan facilities in Central America and the Caribbean basin participated once again in the Gildan Pink Tour. Facilities were decorated in pink to raise awareness among employees. Our doctors shared important information regarding prevention, detection and treatment of breast cancer through different information sessions, creating awareness among more than 12,000 employees.

    More than 500 volunteers participated in the different activities in the community aimed at spreading the word against breast cancer. Gildan joined local authorities, cancer prevention organizations and other companies during breast cancer awareness month. Gildan sponsored an event organized by Nayla Giron, a Honduran designer, to benefit the League Against Cancer. The event featured local artists who support this breast cancer campaign.

    On October 27th, 2014, Gildan Honduras organized a new event called the Pink Trivia, where teams of employees from the different facilities participated in a knowledge challenge on breast cancer. More than 300 employees and their families joined the event to support their colleagues during the contest. Local artists helped bring the campaign to a close with a presentation of their greatest hits.

    Pregnancy Workshops and Breastfeeding Clinic

    In 2011, one of our nurses from our Villanueva sewing facility in Honduras was trained to develop a workshop required by the Social Security Institute (IHSS) for all pregnant employees, in order to comply with the Honduran Health Secretary’s standards and procedures. This workshop is mandatory in order for women to receive an allowance during their maternity leave. The objective is to provide pregnant women with information to help them become physically and mentally prepared to give birth and to the changes that motherhood will introduce into their lives. The workshop covers the following topics:

    - Breathing techniques
    - General physical preparation exercises
    - Importance and advantages of breastfeeding
    - Guidance on delivery phases, waiting time at home, when to go to the hospital, and high-risk situations

    Among the multiple benefits of this workshop, one key advantage is that it gives employees the convenience of receiving the training at the Company’s facilities over one day, compared to the four-day workshop given externally by the IHSS.

    A total 1,020 women working in our facilities in Central America and the Caribbean basin have participated in the workshop since its inception. In October 2010, at our Villanueva sewing facility in Honduras, we also inaugurated a breastfeeding clinic to support our female employees who are returning to work after having given birth and are still breastfeeding. During the International Breastfeeding week, in August 2011, our sewing facility in Villanueva was recognized for its program. Other facilities in Honduras and in Nicaragua also offer breastfeeding areas for new mothers to extract and store milk.

    In September of 2012, building on the success of the breastfeeding clinic implemented at its Villanueva sewing facility in Honduras, Gildan inaugurated the first breastfeeding area at its Las Americas sewing facility in the Dominican Republic.

    The breastfeeding area, which is decorated with pictures of our employees’ babies and equipped with a small refrigerator and a comfortable chair, will benefit an average of 150 employees per year.

    Pre-natal care in Bangladesh

    As of February 2014, a new service became available for our female employees in Bangladesh. A pre-natal care clinic was inaugurated within the facility, to provide pre-natal care and instruction for all pregnant employees.

    A vaccination program is also in place, with a main focus on tetanus vaccines to protect mother and child.

    An on-site doctor and nurse are in charge of the pre-natal care clinic and provide periodic training sessions on topics such as: special care for pregnant women, exercise techniques to facilitate birth, care of newborns and breastfeeding techniques.

    HIV / AIDS Awareness Campaign

    Since 2010, our Honduras facilities participated in an annual HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign during which Samaritan’s Purse, an international organization providing spiritual and physical aid, was invited to speak about HIV/AIDS prevention. The organization also offered on-site HIV testing for employees who wished to be tested. In 2014, more than 400 employees volunteered to be tested.

    Zika Virus

    Chikungunya fever campaign

    In 2014, an awareness campaign on the Zika virus was held, which included:

      • informational presentatons given to employees in cafeterias and through the speaker system;
      • brochures and bulletin boards listing preventive measures;
      • Zika video shown on Gildan TV;
      • sites are fumigated periodically to control mosquitos that transmits the Zika virus;
      • distribution of ABATE (substance that is applied to water receptacles; and
      • medical follow-ups for affected employees.

    Safety Bowl

    At our distribution facility in Eden, North Carolina, the idea of implementing the Safety Bowl program was first raised during one of the worker-management committee meetings. Based on the rules of football, participating employees are divided into teams and achieve points and yardage for various safety categories such as safety inspections, identification of team safety ideas and achieving 0 recordable and first aid accidents. Similarly, teams can be penalized for failing to comply with certain safety items. At the end of the year, the team with the most points is awarded a day off, as well as a trophy and plaque, which are displayed in the employees’ break room.

    New Gildan Heroes Program

    The Gildan Heroes Program’s objective is to recognize the safest facility in the fiscal year using the work related injury rate as a criteria. The facility with the lowest injury rate will be selected as the safest or the Gildan Hero of the year. Additionally, the program focuses on promoting a safety culture among employees in participating facilities to reduce the accident rate. We believe that committed employees positively impact the injury rate within a facility. On a monthly basis, we identify the facility with the lowest accumulated injury rate and communicate these results to all facilities. A trophy and a plaque is presented to the winning facility at the end of each year. The Villanueva sewing facility in Honduras was recognized as the safest facility in 2015 for achieving 0 recordable injuries.