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June 6, 2011

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Retailers commit to blasting hazardous methods out of fashion

A number of well-known high-street fashion retailers has signed up to a ‘call for action’ on banning sandblasting, a hazardous process that can cause illness and even death for workers.

Sandblasting is the process by which denim jeans are given a ‘faded’ look but the process releases dust which, when inhaled, causes scarring in the lungs. Said Patrick Itschert, general secretary of the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF): “Jeans are one of the most popular items of clothing and a very profitable segment of the market is for ‘distressed’ jeans. The method of choice for giving jeans a faded look is sandblasting, but it is a process which is very damaging to workers’ health.”

Mr Itschert continued: “In the absence of effective government regulation the most effective means of eliminating this harmful process is for brands and retailers collectively to impose a voluntary ban on sandblasting in their global supply chains.”

In May, the ban was adopted in Brussels by ten leading garment brands and retailers, including C&A, Carrefour, Esprit, H&M, Karen Millen, Levi Strauss & Co and New Look.

Said Mr Itschert: “The signatory companies, all of whom have been tackling the issue of sandblasting individually, recognise the importance of expressing their collective intent. We believe that the Call to Action will be instrumental in generating far-reaching action at different levels, including action on the part of industry and government in producing countries, as well as on the part of the EU, the ILO and the WHO.”

The Call to Action asks signatory companies to:

  • Ban the practice of sandblasting throughout their supply chains, including, but not limited to, the use of aluminium oxide, aluminium silicate, silicon carbide, copper slag and garnet for abrasive blasting;
  • Work with their suppliers in a transition towards alternative methods, after having established the risks and their means of control; and
  • Take the necessary measures to ensure that the ban is effectively applied throughout their whole supply chain.

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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