Apple operations chief details supply chain COVID-19 response plans

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Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Sabih Khan has outlined how the company plans to ensure health and safety across its global supply chain amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new safety guidelines were revealed on Thursday in Apple's annual Supplier Responsibility Progress report. It opens with a public letter from Khan that thanks supply chain partners across the globe, as well as details how the company is ensuring protections for workers at factories and plants during the coronavirus crisis.

Khan said the 2020 report is a "look back" on past sustainability and safety efforts, but also includes some of the actions that Apple is taking to "address COVID-19's unprecedented challenges."

"From the outset, we worked with our suppliers to develop and execute a plan that puts the health of people first," Khan wrote. "Thousands of Apple employees have worked tirelessly to execute that plan in partnership with our suppliers around the world."

Some of the actions that Apple has taken at supply chain facilities include health screenings, requiring the use of personal protective equipment, givings masks and sanitizer to all employees, and enforcing social distancing and decreased density at workplaces.

Additionally, Apple facilities now feature reconfigured and redesigned floor plans at factories when needed, as well as more flexible work hours to allow for the aforementioned social distancing measures. The company also said that it's sharing its workplace health and safety plans with others to help establish better worker protections across the industry.

Some of the usual details that Apple includes in its annual report are here as well. The company said its Zero Waste program is now fully integrated, there was a 53% annual increase in suppliers committing to zero-waste practices, and it saved nearly 30.5 billion gallons of freshwater to date.

Apple created the 2020 report based on interviews with 52,000 workers across it supply chain. The company also audited suppliers in 49 countries in 2019, up from 30 the year before.

"Our work to protect people and the planet may never be finished — but we've never been more confident that our brightest days are still ahead," Khan wrote.