BSI reveals increased risks of modern day slavery in UK construction

By Catherine Sturman
Research from the British Standards Institution (BSI) has revealed the source countries which pose the highest risk of modern day slavery to the UK and...

Research from the British Standards Institution (BSI) has revealed the source countries which pose the highest risk of modern day slavery to the UK and its construction industry through its global supply chains.

The BSI Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index has found that:

  • China, from where 18 percent of annual construction materials imported to the UK in 2015 originated, is ranked as a high risk source country of modern day slavery to the UK.
  • Italy is also ranked by the proprietary Index as high risk. Fully 6.4 percent of the total of £13.82 billion of construction materials imported into the UK were from Italy.
  • 191 source countries and 193 destination countries ranked from low to severe based on the risk score.


BSI’s unique Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index shines a critical light for business, government and civil society to understand the risk associated with the movement and exploitation of people between 191 source countries and 193 destination countries. Each combination of countries has been ranked from low to severe based on the risk score.

Chris McCann, Principal Consultant, Supply Chain Services and Solutions at BSI, said: “The construction industry has been identified by the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commission as one of its four core focus sectors. This Index, along with BSI’s risk management services and solutions, empowers sector organizations to focus their efforts on identifying and assessing ‘at-risk’ suppliers and to manage the risks proactively to safeguard their workforce and protect their own reputation.”

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) is bringing the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking to the attention of British businesses and civil society. Its Section 54 clause, Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC), highlights the risk to business of finding examples of it in global supply chains. Several high-profile court cases have highlighted the illegal practices taking place across Britain.

Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director, Centre for Sustainable Products, BRE, said: ”This index from BSI brings another useful dataset to the market to support the struggle to eradicate modern slavery both at home and overseas. Global supply chains are inherently complex with goods and services often coming from multiple sources. By having a better understanding of the true provenance of our products and labour services we stand a much better chance of painting a realistic picture to then take positive steps.”

BSI’s Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index has been developed to assist companies, and, for example, police authorities in several ways. For example, a company working in the construction sector that employs agency workers may wish to pay closer attention to workers from a high-risk country – forced labour often takes place in open sight, not only behind closed doors or in secret, both overseas and in the UK.

The Index’s inputs include BSI’s proprietary SCREEN Forced Labor Intelligence along with independent trafficking and exploitation data, economic disparity, and countries’ geographical proximity information. The data has been verified against the citations made by credible sources to provide a holistic understanding of the probability of these types of abuses, threats and risks as well as real-world documented cases.

The Index’s lead developer, Michiko Shima, BSI, said: “The presentation of tens of thousands of pairings of source/destination countries and their relative risk provides a broad understanding of the breadth of threats to global supply chains. These include human rights abuses, security threats and business continuity risks.”

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