Killer jeans and Dolce & Gabbana’s attitude to workers’ health

Posted on August 11, 2011

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Discussing scientific papers is all very nice and important, but sometimes one is confronted with the “real” world so to speak and it is discouraging to see that, even in the face of compelling evidence and the fact that the root of the problem is easily address, some companies could not care less about the people working for them.

In cases like this, it seems there is nothing else to do but name and shame

Yesterday, the Guardian published an article (link) about an ongoing urgent action campaign from Clean Clothes Campaign aimed at stopping sandblasting of jeans (ie to make them, and therefore whoever wears them, look cool). Or at least, stop the occupational conditions under which this is currently done in countries such as Turkey.

During the sandblasting process, the operators are exposed to high concentrations of  silica. This has led to an increase in the incidence and at present a high prevalance of cases of silicosis (warning: wikipedia link) in these workplaces. Even though there is a body of scientific evidence (although many are case studies) published in peer-reviewed journals – for example here, here, and here – and a number of companies have now abolished sandblasted jeans from their collections, some companies refuse to take responsibility. Most notably, Dolce & Gabbana‘s reaction was as follows (quotes from the Guardian article):

“”Dolce & Gabbana telephoned me to say thanks for the information and that it did not interest them. I was pretty surprised. This is a serious issue. People have died because of sandblasting,” she said.”

“In a statement issued on 5 August, Change.org accused Dolce & Gabbana of having “deleted posts on its Facebook wall after Change.org members posted messages demanding that the company ban sandblasting”.

So in addition to not buying their products (although if their attitude to their employees’ health does not convince you, seriously their watches covered in (fake) diamonds should do that trick…seriously), please have a look at the Clean Clothes Campaign’s Urgent Action website (here) and sign their petition as well  (to be found here)!!

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