Following the release of Apple’s “2012 Supplier Responsibility Report,” Apple announced it would be the first technology company admitted to the Fair Labor Association. The FLA will “independently assess facilities in Apple’s supply chain,” and then publish its independent findings online. Apple announced through a press release today that the first audits have officially started with FLA President Auret van Heerden and his team beginning inspections at Foxconn City in Shenzhen. Apple CEO Tim Cook said the audits are “unprecedented in the electronics industry”:

“We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we’ve asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers. The inspections now underway are unprecedented in the electronics industry, both in scale and scope, and we appreciate the FLA agreeing to take the unusual step of identifying the factories in their reports.”

Apple also noted the results of the FLA’s audits would be published in early March at www.fairlabor.org. The inspections begin today with Apple’s final assembly suppliers in Shenzhen and Chengdu, China. Audits of other Apple facilities, including Quanta and Pegatron, will be conducted “later this spring.” Apple said the inspections would eventually cover facilities where “more than 90 percent of Apple products are assembled.” Apple also described exactly what the audits are covering within the facilities:

As part of its independent assessment, the FLA will interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions including health and safety, compensation, working hours and communication with management. The FLA’s team will inspect manufacturing areas, dormitories and other facilities, and will conduct an extensive review of documents related to procedures at all stages of employment.

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