U.S.-Mexico Trade:

The Work Environment at Eight U.S.-Owned Maquiladora Auto Parts Plants

GGD-94-22: Published: Nov 1, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 1, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the working conditions at eight U.S.-owned auto parts plants in Mexico, focusing on: (1) the occupational safety and health work environment at these plants; (2) the Mexican government's efforts to oversee occupational safety and health; and (3) U.S. and Mexican cooperative efforts to enhance the plants' working conditions.

GAO found that: (1) work environments at the eight maquiladora auto parts plants are generally orderly and well maintained; (2) although most of the eight plants have worker safety and health policies and designated personnel to oversee safety and health programs, they lack hazard-specific programs and the training necessary to mitigate some health hazards; (3) although ergonomic hazards are the most significant hazards found at these plants, only a few plants have developed programs for correcting ergonomic hazards; (4) most of the safety and health hazards observed vary in degree, violate Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, do not present an imminent danger, are also found in U.S. plants, and are typical of light manufacturing and assembly operation hazards; (5) local management, in cooperation with parent companies, could address health and safety hazards by systematically evaluating plant safety and health programs; (6) the parent companies need to improve work environments by actively monitoring their maquiladora plants and subsidiaries to ensure that corporate safety and health policies are being fully implemented; (7) Mexican officials acknowledge that their safety and health regulatory system needs to be enhanced; (8) U.S. and Mexican occupational injury and illness rates cannot be compared, since the countries have different reporting criteria and requirements; (9) the United States and Mexico have undertaken several joint initiatives to enhance working conditions in both countries; and (10) U.S. and Mexican labor officials recognize the need to enhance cooperation on ergonomic hazard issues, occupational safety and health training for joint commission members, and reporting on occupational injuries and illnesses.

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