Reporter Jacob Resneck, was forwarded this press release today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
HENNES & MAURITZ AB AND LEVI STRAUSS & CO. ANNOUNCE GLOBAL BAN ON SANDBLASTING
STOCKHOLM and SAN FRANCISCO (September 8, 2010) — As a commitment to the health and safety of workers across the apparel industry, Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) and Levi Strauss & Co. today announced plans to implement a global ban on sandblasting in all of their future product lines. The two companies are encouraging others to join this ban in a move toward eliminating sandblasting as an industry practice.
Sandblasting is one of a number of finishing techniques used to create a worn look for denim and other apparel. When sandblasting is performed, proper safeguards, such as those used by H&M and Levi Strauss & Co. suppliers, must be in place to protect workers from potentially serious harm resulting from exposure to crystalline silica (a compound found in sand). But there are some factories in the apparel industry – often linked to counterfeit operations – which do not apply the same safeguards, putting workers’ health at risk.
"H&M has had health and safety requirements for sandblasting for several years. Like all other Code of Conduct requirements, monitoring of sandblasting practices has been part of our extensive Full Audit Programme. At the same time, securing that these standards are being observed by all of our suppliers and their subcontractors has proven too difficult. In order to make certain that no worker producing denim garments for H&M risks his or her health, we have decided to quit purchasing and retailing sandblasted products," said Karl Gunnar Fagerlin, Production Manager at H&M.
“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. “We’re proud to join with H&M today in a commitment to apparel workers world-wide and we urge other companies to join us in ending this practice.”
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Effective immediately, H&M and Levi Strauss & Co. will not place any new orders for sandblasted product and as of December 31, 2010, H&M and Levi Strauss & Co. will no longer have any active production that uses this finishing technique. The ban includes, but is not limited to, the use of aluminum oxide, aluminum silicate, silicon carbide, copper slag and garnet for abrasive blasting.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
A quote from Aron Cramer, President and CEO, BSR, about this announcement: "I applaud the step that LS&Co. and H&M have taken to phase out sandblasting globally. The move they are announcing today builds on their legacy of leadership in ensuring that their products are made under safe and fair working conditions."
H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB
Levi Strauss & Co.
It was also featured in the Financial Post
Our recent piece on Sandblasting in The Caravan:
"About 24 kilometres from the centre of Dhaka, in the gritty industrial suburb of Savar Upazila, down a narrow path, a small sign reads ‘Latest Washing and Blasting Industries.’ It’s not much more than a large corrugated metal shack with room for three young men, who work shoulder-to-shoulder. In the centre of the shed is a waist-high mound of white sand from the nearby Jamuna River. The young men are armed with pneumatic guns that shoot the sand onto the denim jeans, their hands protected by heavy gloves. A few spurts on each side are all that’s necessary to give the denim that worn, softer look that the fashionistas crave.
There’s no ventilation, save for bullet-sized holes in the metal roof where rays of sunshine look like tangible cylinders from the fine dust and sand in the air. As the men work, there is a cacophony of noise and dust and it’s nearly impossible to breathe—with or without a flimsy cotton face mask that is supposed to provide protection to visitors....."
Read the rest of the article with more photos in The Caravan here