In light of the recent factory collapse in Bangladesh and another in Cambodia this week, there is an promising crowdsourcing service called LaborVoices for factory workers and other industries.
A former Department of State employee, Kohl Gill, who I do not know, started the service.
LaborVoices collects information from workers by phone polling in the workers native languages.
The service anonymously records information about hazardous working conditions, product quality, and maintenance of equipment.
According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (13 May 2013), LaborVoices aggregates worker responses and provides the results on a subscription basis through an online dashboard.
Unlike with onsite inspections, where workers can be easily coaxed, cajoled, or threatened to provide positive workplace feedback, the private polling by mobile phones provides for more accurate and timely reporting of workplace issues.
Problems that can be identified early can be remediated sooner and hopefully avoid defects, injuries, and illnesses from poor products and working conditions.
Giving voice to the workforce–anonymously, safely, and in aggregate can provide important information to companies, labor unions, government regulators, and law enforcement to be able to take action to protect people inside the workplace and to users outside.
Like an ever-present inspector general, internal auditor, or tip hotline, LaborVoices can help self-regulate industry, produce safer products, and protect the workers who make it all happen.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to UN Women Asia and The Pacific)