Harvard, Levi Strauss, U.S. think tank in blockchain tie-up on worker welfare

Harvard University and American clothing company Levi Strauss & Co announced a collaboration with the U.S. think tank to develop a blockchain factory safety system to augment outside auditors of factory health and safety with self-reporting by workers.

The new system aims to eventually replace external factory health and safety auditors with a self-reporting infrastructure by the workers. Dr. Eileen McNeely, director of Harvard T.H. Chan’s Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise said, “For the last 25 years, work in supply chains has been monitored mainly by audits… A distributed system of inquiry on the blockchain that goes right to the source offers a new solution.”

Three factories in Mexico producing goods for Levi Strauss and employing 5,000 workers will be the first to use the blockchain-powered survey in 2019.

Blockchain, which first emerged as the system powering bitcoin, is a shared database maintained by a network of computers connected to the internet.

New York-based Consensys will provide the project’s blockchain solution.

Essentially, the plan is to put an annual worker survey on the blockchain in what the participants called a crucial first step in transparent evaluation of working conditions in factories.

The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. State Department and its first pilot will be tested in factories in Mexico in the second quarter of 2019, with another pilot slated in 2020.

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