Sandblasted jeans: A worn out look that can kill

Labour rights article written on the 18 Jan 2011

Photo: istock

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) has launched an urgent appeal calling on an end to sandblasting in the manufacture of jeans.

The lives of men and women who operate sandblasting equipment are at serious risk. The popular denim finishing technique is known to cause a severe form of silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of dust containing free crystalline silica.

Labour rights organisations report that sandblasting has already resulted in thousands of deaths across denim manufacturing countries, including Turkey, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Brazil and Mexico.

The CCC, along with the Solidarity Committee of Sandblasting Labourers and international labour rights activists, are asking major jeans’ brands to end the use of sandblasting. They also ask governments in jeans manufacturing countries to ban the practise.

The campaign calls for an outright ban rather than only preventative safety measures. According to the CCC, ‘the current organisation of garment production through long international subcontracting chains, often based in countries where basic Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) procedures are routinely violated…[This] makes it impossible for jeans producers to guarantee the highly complicated and technically advanced safety procedures necessary to sandblast jeans in a safe way.’

To date the appeal has already seen some important success. A number of fashion labels and retailers have already banned the sale of sandblasted jeans, including one of the world’s best known denim brands, Levi-Strauss & Co.

Add your voice to the appeal against sandblasting

You can help bring an end to this life-endangering practise. Join the action and call on major denim companies to ban sandblasting. Help end sandblasting

Leave your own message

To support Australian and international retailers banning the sale of sandblasted jeans leave your own message below.

Avoid purchasing sandblasted jeans

Sandblasted jeans generally have a ‘worn out’ look. If you are unsure, check the labelling or ask the retailer what finishing technique has been used on the jeans.

Where can I find out more?

The Clean Clothes Campaign has put together a Q & A on sandblasting