Apple is allowing independent observers to inspect overseas factories manufacturing its devices as concerns over the treatment of workers by some of the manufacturer's suppliers continues.
The company has also revealed a list of its suppliers for the first time.
The independent inspections will be carried out by the not-for-profit Fair Labour Association, which monitors global workplace conditions. Apple is the first technology company to join the group.
Auret van Heerden, CEO of the Washington-based labor group said: ‘We welcome Apple's commitment to greater transparency and independent oversight.’
The move follows a recent protest at a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, China where around 150 workers spent two days on the roof, threatening mass suicide, in a protest over plans to move them to a new production line. Over 12 Foxconn workers have already committed suicide.
The workers were producing Microsoft's Xbox consoles but Foxconn also makes products for Amazon, Microsoft and HP, among others.
In a separate move, Apple has released its sixth annual supplier responsibility report, which reveals the results of its audits of factories throughout its supply chain. The company conducted more than 200 audits of suppliers last year.
Apple found that suppliers were in compliance with its policies preventing underage working 97% of the time but complied only 38% of the time with Apple's policy of restricting working time to 60 hours per week.
The report reveals just 38% of facilities were in compliance with requirements for a maximum working week of 60 hours. However, the report showed suppliers were in compliance with its policies preventing underage working 97% of the time.
Five facilities were found to have underage workers, and two were found to have involuntary labor. Apple terminated its contracts with five of its suppliers based on the inspections.
The company also reported the number of audits it conducted on those factories rose 80% in 2011 from the previous year. ‘Last year we performed more than 200 audits at our suppliers' facilities around the world,’ said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior VP of operations.