• Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Clean Clothes Campaign
NEWS HOOK: Release of report on Sandblasted denim and its fatal effects on workers
Thursday, 29 March 2012 00:00

pressconference geneva 

Killer Jeans still being made
New research shows that sandblasting continues in high street production

Jeans brands including H&M, Levi's, Lee, Diesel and Zara come under pressure today as new research reveals Bangladeshi garment workers continue to be exposed to deadly lung diseases while producing faded jeans for European consumers. The report, Deadly Denim, issued today by the Clean Clothes Campaign, found that large factories exporting jeans overseas continue to use a process known as sandblasting.

Sandblasting is a technique to give the “worn-out-look” to jeans. Many brands sourcing denim from Bangladesh have declared that they no longer use sandblasting to fade their products. The ban has been adopted by scores of brands in the last year after the process was proved to cause fatal lung diseases, including silicosis.

The report reveals that regardless of whether a brand has ‘banned’ sandblasting or not, sandblasting - both manual and mechanical – is still commonly used. Our research clearly shows that not only manual but also mechanical sandblasting poses a deadly risk to Bangladeshi garment workers.

One factory owner stated that it was impossible to produce some of the designs requested without the use of sandblasting. Indeed workers told researchers that they are told to switch to using sandblasting, even if a buyer has said it is not be used, if they are too close to production deadlines. Others stated that production was often carried out at night to avoid detection by inspectors and auditors.

Workers interviewed suffered from constant coughing and breathing difficulties. They were using old machinery, and were forced to work up to twelve hours a day in dusty, poorly ventilated rooms, without adequate health and safety protection. Most interviewed had colleagues who had fallen ill.

The report further highlights the lack of medical care provided to workers and the difficulties they face in getting adequate diagnosis and treatment, in part because of the low awareness of the issue among medical professionals.

“It is shocking that almost a decade after a silicosis epidemic among garment workers was highlighted by doctors in Turkey, garment workers are still being asked to risk their lives for fashion” said Dominique Muller of the Clean Clothes Campaign “brands and retailers must do more to put an end to sandblasting.

The Clean Clothes Campaign and its partners are now calling on brands to take more action to end all forms of sandblasting. This should include ceasing production in any unit which carries out either manual or mechanical sandblasting production, making changes to the design of the jeans and working with local trade unions and workers' rights organisations to ensure the ban is being respected.

They are also calling on national governments to ban the process and for the EU to introduce an import ban on sandblasted products. The CCC also wants to see the garment industry included in the World Health Organisation/International Labour Organisation work on the elimination of silicosis and to develop a national programme in Bangladesh.

ENDS

----------------------------

Notes to editors:

- Sandblasting is a process during which particles of sand are blasting at denim fabric to fade the fabric in patches. Its use has become common since the trend for “pre-worn or distressed denim became popular in the 1990s.

- Sandblasting can be done either manually (with workers manually operating a gun from which the sand is blasted) or mechanically (done inside a closed box). Although mechanical sandblasting is considered by many brands to be “safer” than manual sandblasting our research proved that this is not the case, especially in Bangladesh where basic health and safety rules are not followed.

- Sandblasting is linked to the fatal lung disease Silicosis, which is caused by silica particles from sand in dusty working environments gathering in the lung and eventually stopping workers from breathing.

- The Turkish government banned the use of sandblasting in 2009 after it was linked to the deaths of 52 Turkish workers who contracted silicosis while employed as sandblasters in the garment industry. Since then production has been moved to other countries including Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Egypt. The use of crystalline silica for sandblasting has been regulated in Europe since 1966.

- The Clean Clothes Campaign launched the Killer Jeans Campaign in November 2010, calling on major brands and retailers to ban the use of sandblasting, support workers to get diagnosis and treatment for illnesses resulting from their employment and provide compensation for those affected. Since then over 40 major brands and retailers have issued a ban. See http://www.cleanclothes.org/urgent-actions/sandblasting for more information.

- The first companies to ban the process were Levi's and H&M in September 2010. Target is the most recent company to do so, announcing a ban on 28th February 2012. D&G is the most high profile brand to refuse a ban on sandblasting in its supply chain. It was also identified as a buyer from the factories researched.

- The Clean Clothes Campaign is holding an international meeting in Geneva on the 27th and 28th March to discuss the findings of the Bangladesh report and develop actions to address the issues that have arisen. This will include encouraging the WHO/ILO to extent their work on silicosis to the garment industry

 
 
 

Archive site!

This is the archive of the old Clean Clothes Campaign website, to allow people to locate some specific, and really old content.

It won't be updated anymore, and hasn't been updated since april 2013.

Our current website at www.cleanclothes.org has all up-to-date resources available, so please go there for current information.

www.cleanclothes.org

Follow CCC:

Search

Donate to us