Supply Chain Characteristics that Impact Traceability

Traceability Takeaways

  • Forced labor and child labor are widespread problems across brick production sites around the world. Labor risks in brick production are often associated with debt bondage, including inherited or generational debt bondage, particularly in South Asia. Bricks produced with forced and child labor are not likely to enter global supply chains and are more likely to be used for construction near the location of production. Companies pursuing construction projects in regions with documented labor risks in brick production should work with construction contractors to identify the sources of the bricks that they use. Where necessary, full assessments of individual suppliers and specific production regions should be carried out to assess labor conditions, workforce demographics, and community dynamics at specific worksites or regions.

Nature of Labor Rights Risk/Vulnerable Workers

Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by U.S. Government

Child Labor cited by U.S. Government

Risk of Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by other source

Risk of Child Labor cited by other source

Documented presence of migrant workers

Documented presence of other vulnerable workers

Documented presence or significant likelihood of third-party labor recruiters

Features of Production and Supply Chain

Large numbers of dispersed, unorganized, or informal small producers or other worksites

Multiple points of aggregation, co-mingling, and/or transformation across supply chain

Complex/opaque supply chains and/or lack of vertical integration

High degree of flexibility in procurement practices of downstream entities

Distribution of Labor Risk in Various Production Areas

Scale or nature of risk is present across multiple tiers or nodes of supply chain (including in associated downstream or upstream goods)

Scale or nature of risk varies significantly based on geographic area of production

Scale or nature of risk is strongly associated with certain types of suppliers/entities

Linked Upstream and Downstream Risks

Risk in Nodes in Brick Production

The brick value chain contains four main nodes: mining and storage, forming and cutting, firing and cooling, and storage and distribution. The mining and storage node of the supply chain begins with the blending of raw materials (typically crushed clay and shale) and includes the subsequent storing of the clay in a temperature-controlled facility prior to brick formation and further processing. Once the clay is stored, brick manufacturers use processing machines to form and cut the bricks into the desired weights and shapes. The formed and prepared bricks are then put into a kiln; this process typically takes between ten and 40 hours, depending on the type of kiln, level of insolation, type of fuel, and firing temperature. After the bricks have been fired at some specified temperature for a prescribed period of time, the process of cooling begins. This process takes between ten and 24 hours depending on the desired result. The cooled bricks are sorted based on internal quality, size, and color before being put into storage.18The Brick Industry Association. Technical Notes on Brick Construction, 2006. Bricks are often made-to-order for specific customers and are thus immediately distributed once the cooling process is completed. Bricks are typically transported by truck or ship depending on their destinations. Forced labor and child labor risk are highest at the forming and cutting and firing and cooling nodes of the supply chain.  

Brick Formation, Drying, and Cutting

Firing and Cooling

Clay Mining

Storage and Distribution

Associated Upstream Goods with Labor Risk

Sand is used to form silica, which can be made into bricks.

Associated Downstream Goods and Consumer Sectors


Bricks are typically used to construct structures, including commercial buildings, homes, and walls. 

Top Global Countries

  1. China19List of exporters for the selected product in 2021. Product : 6902 Refractory bricks, blocks, tiles and similar refractory ceramic constructional goods (excluding those of siliceous fossil meals or similar siliceous earths). ITC Trade Map, 2021,
  2. Germany
  3. Austria
  4. Italy
  5. United States of America
  6. India
  7. France
  8. Spain
  9. Japan
  10. Poland

Examples & Resources: Traceability Efforts Associated With Bricks