Deadly Denim still on the High Street
Killer process still prevalent in the clothes industry
Campaign group 'Clean Clothes' are still demanding a worldwide abolition of denim sandblasting. Demands of trade unions, labour-rights organisations and medical associations are still unheeded after months of pressure. The deadly procedure which is used to give fabric a faded, worn out or bleached look, has killed at least 46 workers in Turkey with many more affected.
Last year the practice, which is more commonly used in construction work to smooth surfaces, was banned in Turkey amid health and safety concerns. The Committee for Solidarity with Denim Sandblasters(KTID) have reported approximately 4,000 denim workers in Turkey alone have silicosis of the lungs. The average survival rate for sufferers is only 6 years(ERS).
Since the ban, jeans producers have reportedly moved their sandblasting orders from Turkey to other low cost manufacturing countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Bangladesh and China, where health and safety regulations are few and far between.
Over the past decade silica sand has been widely used in the sandblasting of jeans. However according to the European Respiratory Society (ERS)exposure to silica dust has been known to cause silicosis in the lungs of workers who inhale the dust. The World Health Organisation describes the condition as “ an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica. It is irreversible and, moreover, the disease progresses even when exposure stops... “ They add “In later stages the critical condition can become disabling and is often fatal.” (WHO, Fact sheet No 238, May 2000)
Levi Strauss & co. announced last year their cease in production of sandblasted goods, and urged other clothing companies to join in eliminating this dangerous process. "At Levi Strauss & Co, we’ve implemented rigorous standards for sandblasting in our own supply chain but we decided that the best way to help ensure no worker – in any garment factory – faces the risks associated with exposure to crystalline silica is to move to end sandblasting industry-wide," said David Love, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer at Levi Strauss & Co.
However this decision is yet to cotton on with the likes of Diesel, Replay and Dolce & Gabbana who are among the majority that remain ignorant to the effects/hidden expense of this low cost denim finishing.
The Clean Clothes Campaign and its allies demand from jeans producers who still sell sandblasted jeans to start phasing out production with immediate effect.
You can join the protest at: www.cleanclothes.org/urgent-actions/sandblasting