Use of Ergon Energy uniforms making workers suffer from severe allergic reactions

September 8th, 2008 - 2:26 pm ICT by ANI  

Canberra, September 7 (ANI): At least 143 Ergon Energy workers in Queensland, Australia, have suffered severe allergic reactions to the flame-retardant uniforms recently rolled out to the states 3400-strong workforce.

According to a report carried out in , the reactions to the potentially toxic uniforms include workers breaking out in blisters and vomiting after wearing the suits.

One man had welts that left his back numb, while others reported blistering and rashes covering their groins, arms and nipples.

Workers also claim that the Chinese-made uniforms release a yellow, bubbling substance when ironed that causes nausea and vomiting.

Ergon has sent samples of the workwear to the CSIRO for testing, but the Electrical Trades Union is demanding a full recall.

While at least 143 workers have lodged health and safety complaints, ETU assistant secretary Peter Simpson said more than 250 workers were affected.

We only got wind of the problems in August but it looks like a lot of the men were suffering the symptoms in silence, Simpson said.

Lodged complaints dont include members of the workers families, who also have reported symptoms after coming in contact with the uniforms.

According to Simpson, It is a serious issue. We dont know and they arent telling us what the short and long-term effects of these things are.

One doctor has advised an Ergon employee that the effects of the chemicals could be cumulative, he said.

An Ergon staff safety directive obtained by The Courier-Mail advised employees last week to continue wearing the new uniforms if they didnt have access to the old variety and had not experienced rash symptoms.

If the worker no longer had the old uniform, they were advised to order it and revert to it as soon as practicably possible.

But, Simpson said the response was not sufficient.

Everyone should have been out of the uniform before last week, no ifs or buts, Simpson said.
They needed to do a mass recall. Ergon has a duty of care to provide a safe workplace, he added.

According to an Ergon spokesman, There was not a mass withdrawal of uniforms in the first hit. The technology used to make the uniforms flame-retardant is not new or radical. We have used it in good faith that there havent previously been problems with it.

Initial test results were inconclusive but tests are continuing, he added. (ANI)

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