As Western companies overwhelmingly turn to low-wage countries far away from corporate headquarters to produce cheap apparel, electronics, and other goods, factory inspections have become a vital link in the supply chain of overseas production.
An extensive examination by The New York Times reveals how the inspection system intended to protect workers and ensure manufacturing quality is riddled with flaws. The inspections are often so superficial that they omit the most fundamental workplace safeguards like fire escapes.
And even when inspectors are tough, factory managers find ways to trick them and hide serious violations, like child labor or locked exit doors. Dangerous conditions cited in the audits frequently take months to correct, often with little enforcement or follow-through to guarantee compliance. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.