CEO of helsa Fashion Shaping, Gerd HomskiThe helsa Safety and Compliance Seal
03.08.2017 helsainside, helsanews

"helsa has taken care of the care and responsibility of all employees"

Interview with Gerd Homski (CEO helsa Fashion Shaping) about the helsa Compliance and Safety Standard

We asked Gerd Homski (Managing Director helsa Fashion Shaping) some questions about the helsa compliance and safety standard:

Mr. Homski, we generally notice an increasing number of consumers who are very critical about clothing products being produced in emerging markets such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and India. They fear that workers and the environment are exploited there. helsa also produces in countries like Cambodia and India or China. Can you confirm this consumer attitude as well?

Homski: First of all, I have to mention, that end consumers do not have direct contact with helsa products, but of course we can feel this common awareness. In the meantime, most of our fashion labels, that means customers, pay close attention to ethical and social standards as well as to security in the supply companies. Many of our customers carry out on-site audits or demand self-commitments on these issues from their suppliers.


What does this mean for helsa?

Homski: helsa, as a traditional German company, has taken care of the care and responsibility of all employees. We manufacture all over the world exclusively in factories owned by ourselves or at least 50% of them. We are creating the working conditions in responsibility of social, ethical and ecological aspects.


How do you ensure this?

Homski: We have two instruments. On the one hand, there is the helsa code of conduct, which regulates ethical and social standards and which is valid in each helsa site all over the world. The second instrument is the helsa Compliance and Safety Standard (hCSS). Here, we have defined detailed and exact themes from the area of ​​work safety, machine safety, building security, handling of resources and the environment and similar topics. Once a year, each helsa site is thoroughly examined in accordance with these regulations.


There are already so many certificates and labels for fair products and sustainability on the market, why does it still need a helsa standard?

Homski: You are right, there is an immense abundance of different certificates available, which we closely observe and know and which have different focus and test criteria. Most of our customers have their own compliance policies. The hCSS is precisely matched to all relevant points in the shoulder pad production and leads to our opinion to the most effective result.


So briefly said: You are controlling yourself?

Homski: We, the helsa group has installed an own department for energy and environmental management and auditing. This department is completely independent from our operative business and additionally very well educated. Due to the very good and ongoing training of these employees there, they are at a very high level when it comes to the organization of work safety measures, environmental and energy management tasks. This position is responsible for the entire helsa group, including the colleagues in the technical division. All our plants are visited and audited by the auditor at least once a year. He checks documents, certificates, and regulatory approvals continuously. Machinery, fire protection systems, escape routes are examined on site regularly. In addition, factors such as tidiness, waste separation systems or the handling of energy are assessed. There are unannounced surveys of employees, for example, after escape routes, or behaviour in the event of a fire. We must ensure that all employees are well trained.

The advantage of this executive department is that the auditor is also an adviser. If he detects safety failures on machines, he gives support and may provide assistance in remedying the deviations.

In addition, continuous optimization of our standard is important to us. New topics are therefore added every year. We are currently focusing on energy saving. The exchange of conventional lighting in LED lamps is amortized quickly and effectively. Not every production manager knows this. Our auditor performs a lot of education. One example would be the mentioned conversion to LED lamps: many people are not aware that this can save a lot of energy and improve the workplace safety. The reduced heat radiation can be used to optimize well-being at the workplace.


You built a new production facility in Hyderabad, India, and inaugurated in June. What are your opportunities now?

Homski: Of course, this new building brings us the urgently needed production space for the growing markets in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Indonesia. We have designed this building according to state of the art knowledge of "lean management" and, of course, the helsa Compliance and Safety Standards gave decisive criteria for planning. Topics such as workplace safety, escape routes, fire protection, toilets and resting and social areas could be implemented with this new building.


Thank you, Mr. Homski!

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