February 16, 2011

Apple Says Foxconn Plant Taking Preventative Suicide Measures

Apple said its contractor has "saved lives" with a suicide prevention program established after a number of workers killed themselves at plants in China.

Apple said in its 2011 Progress Report that it had sent a team of experts to Foxconn's plant in Shenzhen, southern China, last year to investigate the suicides and evaluate the company's response.

"The team commended Foxconn for taking quick action on several fronts simultaneously... the investigation found that Foxconn's response had definitely saved lives," said the report which was released this week.

It said that Foxconn adopted a number of preventative measures, including hiring a large number of psychological counselors, establishing a 24-hour care center, and attaching large nets to its factory buildings to prevent impulsive suicides.

According to the report, Foxconn is implementing an employee assistance program that focuses on maintaining employee mental health and expanding social support networks.

"Apple will continue to work with Foxconn through the implementation of these programs, and we plan to take key learnings from this engagement to other facilities in our supply base," it said.

China's official Global Times reported that at least 13 employees at Foxconn died in apparent suicides last year.

Labor rights activists have blamed the string of deaths on tough working conditions, highlighting the difficulties millions of factory workers face across China.

Apple's review found that 137 workers at a Wintek facility near Shanghai had suffered adverse health effects after exposure to n-hexane, a chemical used in some processes.

Apple said that it will reaudit Wintek, which also supplies Nokia.

It found that a total of 49 workers were "hired before reaching the legal age."


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