AT&T has provided branded apparel, manufactured by Cintas, which in some cases are made of highly flammable 100% polyester in some of the components of the clothing.
Here are CWA’s issues with these clothes:
- Most are made (overseas!) of inexpensive 100% polyester; this causes the clothing to be extremely flammable if exposed to intense heat. Intense heat could be:
- Electrical-flashes when working in areas with more than 600 volts of power, such as when working around substations, cell-towers, even when working aloft (depending on what power is strung above the telephone cable).
- Working near open flame, such as sealing an XAGA or other cable repair operation
- Sparks or small metal particles that may land on the clothing. One such incident was when a technician drilled through a wall and contacted power; this caused his drill-bit to shatter and a small spark of hot drill-bit landed on his sleeve, causing the whole shirt to erupt into flames. This resulted in severe burns to the CWA member.
- Most are of a very dark blue color. This can and has caused various concerns regarding heat exhaustion. (As one can imagine, this is often found by management to be the employee’s fault). To make matters worse, these dark colors conflicts with AT&T’s Heat Illness Awareness policy.
- OSHA’s 29 CFR1910.269 states:
“The employer shall ensure that each employee who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that, when exposed to flames or electric arcs, could increase the extent of injury that would be sustained by the employee. This apparel standard applies to all apparel worn by an employee exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs.”
AT&T, despite being issued multiple citations by the state of California, refuses to discontinue the use of this clothing, despite clear evidence from CWA and despite almost continuous repetition by management of the “Safety Creed.”
What Should I Do?
- If your are wearing AT&T branded apparel, check the tag. 100% polyester is a known hazard when exposed to intense heat, sparks, flame, etc. If so, report to your manager that he has provided you unsafe clothing
- Ask your manager to allow you to wear safe work-clothing (either poly-cotton blend or 100% natural fibers, or treated polyester). It is our position that to bring in your own neat, clean clothing until AT&T replaces their dangerous clothing is a reasonable step immediately instead of waiting months!
- Ask your manager to demonstrate that the clothing is safe by attempting to singe the bottom hem of his shirt with a lighter (for your safety, stand back)..
Please report the results of these actions to your stewards. CWA is working as hard as possible to fix this. AT&T is not taking this safety concern seriously, maybe they will listen to their work-force!