Retail chain giant Wal-Mart Stores has launched an investigation into the alleged hazardous working conditions at the mainland factories of its household appliances supplier, Elec-Tech International. The United States-based firm's action was a response to allegations made in a report by a local labour rights group, the Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom), about the poor safety record at Elec-Tech's plants, where frequent industrial accidents have left workers with severed hands and fingers. 'As soon as we learned of these allegations, we immediately launched an investigation of the factory referenced in the report,' said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Erica Jones. 'We take reports like this very seriously and we will take prompt remedial action if our investigations confirm any of the findings.' The South China Morning Post yesterday reported that more than 60 workers had been disabled by injuries sustained in industrial accidents between July last year and June this year at Elec-Tech's main Zhuhai production site, which employs a workforce of about 6,000. The main causes of the injuries at Shenzhen-listed Elec-Tech's factories are unsafe machines, inadequate training of workers, absence of protective equipment, and pressure to work faster, according to Sacom. 'The rampant labour rights violations at Elec-Tech prove that Wal-Mart's implementation of its code of conduct [for suppliers] has failed,' the group said. Repeated attempts to contact Elec-Tech met with no response. Wal-Mart is a major client of Elec-Tech, which is one of the word's largest contract manufacturers of small household appliances. Its products include toaster ovens, coffee makers, deep fryers, blenders, computer-controlled bread makers, flat irons and outdoor electronic grills. Sacom spokeswoman Debby Chan Sze-wan said Wal-Mart had a responsibility to ensure safe and decent working conditions at its supplier's production facilities. Besides an investigation, Sacom wants Wal-Mart to immediately draw up a plan to replace the old and unsafe foot pedal-powered equipment still used by Elec-Tech. Workers call these 'hand-eating machines'. The group also wants Wal-Mart, which is the world's largest retailer, to compensate all the victims of industrial accidents at Elec-Tech, provide training and information on labour rights to workers, set up a workers' committee to monitor the safety conditions, publish a checklist of industrial injuries sustained at the factories, and make available a complaint hotline for workers. Jones said Wal-Mart would check if factory employees 'had access to information posters describing how they can anonymously contact a local-language hotline to report any violations of Wal-Mart standards'. 'We remain committed to sourcing merchandise that is produced responsibly by suppliers that adhere to Wal-Mart's rigorous 'Standards for Suppliers' code of conduct,' Jones said.