Ensuring Safe and Healthy Workplaces

Before we do business with any outside partner, they must undergo a compliance audit process to prove they can meet our high standards.

As part of this initial audit, our team interviews workers, reviews supplier records and conducts thorough on-site inspections throughout all areas of factory operations, including production floors, kitchens and associate lodging (where it exists).

The audit also includes what we call a Critical Life Safety Assessment. Using the Ideal Plant Model (IPM), detailed in the video above, and experience gained through our membership in the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, this assessment aims to identify a factory’s structural, electrical, and fire safety risks and needs.

VF's Global Compliance Principles

Any supplier producing product for VF must adhere to our Global Compliance Principles, which are included in our Terms of Engagement

We ensure adherence to these Principles by conducting ongoing Factory Compliance Audits at every contract supplier facility, including cutting facilities, sewing plants, screen printers, embroiderers, laundries and packaging locations.

Our 16 Principles

1Legal and Ethical Best Practices
2Child / Juvenile Labor
3Forced Labor
4Wages and Benefits
5Hours of Work
6Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
7Health and Safety
10Women's Rights
12Monitoring & Compliance
13Informed Workplace
14Worker Residence (Dormitory)
15Facility Security

Enabling Improvement at Supplier Facilities

When supplier factories demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to meet our standards, they simply cannot do business with VF. But we also try to be pragmatic and evaluate each situation on an individual basis. In some parts of the world supplier factories may face unique challenges in conforming to our Global Compliance Principles, even though they try very hard. In these cases, we work to help those factories understand their deficiencies and how to resolve the issues that exist. 

We believe that giving supplier factories the opportunity to improve – under strict timelines and supervision from VF – is the right thing to do for the factories and the people who work there.

Leading the improvement process is VF’s Sustainable Operations Team, a group of dedicated individuals around the world who act as each supplier’s “coach” or “tutor” to help factory management understand how they can make changes to sustainably meet VF’s compliance requirements. This may involve training human resources staff, finance teams, safety officers and related compliance employees to improve factory management policies, operations and practices. It can also include mediating communication between management and workers to resolve conflict.

Through close and constant engagement with suppliers, the Sustainable Operations Team is the driving force behind ongoing improvements at the individual factory level. Often, this team applies resources and know-how to suppliers that the factories would normally be unable to achieve themselves – a win for all involved.

“The VF team has been a good partner that pushed us out of our comfort zone and encouraged us to strive for development and growth. As a result, we started to observe benefits to our production processes, the safety of our factory and the engagement of our employees. We are certain this type of work and resulting improvements will be ongoing.”
— Ary Moretti Jr, Owner, MC7 Confecções Ltda. (Brazil)

Video: Ideal Plant Model

The Ideal Plant Model (IPM), which we introduced in 1993, is a comprehensive set of guidelines designed to provide the safest, cleanest and most comfortable working environment possible at each of our 24 owned factories around the world. Through Responsible Sourcing, we are working to apply the IPM principles within operations at our supplier factories as well, starting with Tier-1 suppliers then into deeper tiers of our supply chain over time.

VF’s manufacturing facility in Torreon, Mexico, is one of our company-owned and operated manufacturing sites. In this video you will meet VF factory employees and see some of the IPM principles we are working to embed in our supplier factories. 

Standards We Follow

VF’s Ideal Plant Model (IPM) uses health and safety criteria that often exceed local laws and requirements. In each of our owned and operated manufacturing sites, we apply U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code, including locations in countries where such expectations are lower. We are sharing elements of these programs with some of our suppliers so they can continually make their factories safer.