Standards body ranks Chinese and Italian suppliers as ‘high risk’

Construction worker

Large quantities of materials used in the UK construction industry are being supplied by countries with a high risk of workplace slavery, according to a new report.

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has rated China, which provided almost a fifth (18%) of imported construction materials into the UK in 2015, as a “high risk” country for modern day slavery.

The organisation’s Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index also ranked Italy as “high risk”, with 6.4% of the total £13.8bn of construction materials imported into the UK from the country.

Theresa May has made ending the “barbaric evil” of modern slavery a priority of her permiership, while the UK’s independent anti-slavery commission has indentified construction as one of four core focus sectors.

The BSI ranked 191 source countries and 193 destination countries from low to severe based on the risk score, and estimated there were 45 million people in slavery around the world in 2016.

Chris McCann, a principal consultant at BSI, said: “[Firms should] focus their efforts on identifying and assessing ‘at-risk’ suppliers and to manage the risks proactively to safeguard their workforce and protect their own reputation.”

The index’s lead developer, BSI’s Michiko Shima, said: “The presentation of tens of thousands of pairings of source/destination countries and their relative risk provides a broad understanding of the breadth of threats to global supply chains.

“These include human rights abuses, security threats and business continuity risks.”