During their peak season, many producers undergo food safety, ethical, and environmental audits. While it is understandable that businesses are highly occupied and face various challenges during this time, it is essential for audits to be conducted when the site is at its peak production. This requirement not only stems from market expectations set by buyers but also serves the purpose of assessing risks during the highest-risk period of business operations. In fact, other global standards than SIZA also mandate audits to be conducted during the peak season to ensure the most accurate evaluation during the period of highest risk.
For social (ethical) audits, a significant requirement is to interview a specific sample of the workforce and conduct a comprehensive document review of labor practices. It is crucial to note the following key points in this regard:
- This can only be accomplished when the employees are physically present at the site, which typically corresponds to when the site employs the largest proportion of its workforce.
- The SIZA requirements specify that at least 66% of the total workforce must be present during the audit.
- This calculation includes both permanent and seasonal staff employed by the business.
- Regarding occupational health and safety evaluations, all processing facilities must be operational. If any processing or packing facility is located onsite, it should be accessible and actively functioning to allow for a thorough assessment by the audit team.
- Conducting audits during the peak season ensures a comprehensive evaluation to protect both the supplier and the buyer by ensuring accurately operational and labor practices of the business during its most demanding and critical period.