Sick workers at Apple’s supplier and OEM’s responsibility

A New York Times article (February 23, 2011) describes worker complaints at an Apple supplier, Wintek, and their plant in China that uses the n-hexane agent to cleaning glass panels for the Apple iPhone.  The cleaning agent was used for its efficiency but exposure to the agent, a narcotic, causes damage to the nervous system and muscle damage.  Clearly the choice of specific chemicals is a supplier decision, but customers and lawyers hold the OEM, the one with the highest margin in the supply chain, responsible for the overall supply chain conformance to environmental issues both within and outside the plant. This brings up the question – how much of the responsibility should lie with the OEM (Apple in this case) in a global supply chain  – if the local government does not enforce environmental rules ? Should US rules apply worldwide – and if so, does this approach conflict with recent demands by US manufacturers to ease environmental rules in US plants ? Also, it brings up the question, does EPA enforcement of rules in the US make US manufacturing more competitive, by relieving OEMs of the need to monitor US component suppliers ?

About aviyer2010

Professor
This entry was posted in Global Contexts, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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