"People are our greatest asset. We operate our facilities in a very responsible manner when it comes to our employees and the communities in which we operate. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for our employees, and to have a positive influence on the community."
- Randy Price Vice President and Managing Director, Product Supply – Americas
Additionally, our engineers and green teams have worked diligently to reduce the environmental impact of our plants and improve the health and safety of our products. From testing every product style for health and safety impacts to improving energy efficiency efforts such as using heat exchangers to capture and reuse heat from waste water, to water efficiency programs and waste diversion processes, we are optimizing our systems to protect the environment.
Today, about one-third of our global production takes place in our owned facilities where we primarily produce high-volume products that do not change seasonally, such as Wrangler® brand jeans, Timberland® brand boots and professional uniforms. VF currently owns manufacturing facilities in seven countries: Argentina, The Dominican Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Mexico Nicaragua, Turkey and the United States.
THE IDEAL PLANT MODEL
All VF facilities are required to meet or exceed IPM standards.
All VF-owned facilities, regardless of location, are managed under and must meet or exceed the requirements of our Ideal Plant Model (IPM). Established in 1993, the IPM is a comprehensive set of guidelines and expectations designed to provide safe, clean and comfortable working environments for our associates.
The IPM is a significant point of differentiation for VF. It enables us to build some of the world’s best-functioning factories that, in many cases, enforce health and safety criteria that exceed local requirements. We apply U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Life Safety Code® in every VF facility, including locations where such standards are lower or nonexistent. In addition, all locations must adhere to our Code of Business Conduct.
Total Accidents may include lost time accidents, restricted work/job transfer accidents, first aid injuries and other accidents/illnesses. Days Lost may include days lost due to lost time accidents, days of restricted work/job transfer and absences related to other injuries.
The IPM was created through close collaboration with VF associates who work at our facilities, and they remain actively engaged with making them safe and productive working environments. Our Central Safety and Health Committee is tasked with the responsibility of implementing the IPM across our VF facilities and continually evolve it based upon new legal requirements and best practices. Each facility has a Central Safety and Health Committee with sub-committees that address the following performance areas:
- General Guidelines
- Safety Committee
- Loss Review
- Hazard Communication
- Occupational Health
- Facility Safety Hazard Controls
- Electrical/Mechanical Safety Hazards
- Environmental/Regulatory Concerns
- Emergency Procedures
- Property Conservation
- Response to Recommendations and Loss Documentation
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Special Emphasis Programs
- Business Continuity and Business Recovery Planning
The Central Safety and Health Committee is also dedicated to ensuring that all equipment, including fire extinguishers, eye wash stations and first aid cabinets, is complete and current.
AUDITING FOR COMPLIANCE
Every VF-owned office, distribution center and owned manufacturing facility is independently audited against 17 IPM criteria during unannounced annual audits to objectively grade safety performance. The audit requirements were developed to meet OSHA, NFPA, and other regulations and, in many cases, an even stricter requirement was defined and adopted as a VF Best Practice.
These audits can last between six hours to two days, depending on the size of the factory and number of associates employed at the location, and evaluate:
Safety issues such as chemical safety, electrical/mechanical hazards, personal protective equipment and other topics found in the OSHA standards and other codes
Management involvement in safety and the facility management’s ability to analyze accidents and incidents and enact changes to prevent similar recurrences
The facility’s response to recommendations received during previous audits or received from outside sources such as insurers’ inspections.
After the audit is complete, facilities are given a score along with a corrective action plan, if necessary. Facilities are typically given one year to implement plans.
Facilities found to be in compliance and attaining a score of at least 97 percent on the audit, with no deficiencies in the Life Safety category and accident rates that are less than the current industry standards published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are eligible for the VF’s Safety Excellence Award. In 2013, more than half of the audited VF facilities received the Safety Excellence Award.
Facilities found to be in compliance and attaining a score of at least 97 percent on their IPM audit are eligible for VF’s Safety Excellence Award.
We complement IPM with a certification program created by the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production Certification Program (WRAP), a nonprofit organization that promotes global ethics in manufacturing. The WRAP certification requires that an independent, accredited monitor perform unannounced audits to determine compliance with WRAP’s 12 Production Principles. WRAP also conducts confidential employee interviews with associates to verify the audit results. Approximately 90 percent of all VF’s owned manufacturing facilities are WRAP certified, with 40 percent of them achieving a Platinum level certification, which is only attainable after a facility has maintained a minimum of three consecutive years of WRAP certification.
For a more detailed look at our auditing procedures for contract suppliers, please see The VF Factory Audit Process for Vendors, Factories, Buyers and Agents.