Workplace Injuries Can Come from Surprising Places: Including Uniforms

When many people think of workplace injuries and accidents on the job, they may think of construction workers and the heavy, dangerous equipment they come into contact with on a daily basis. While these are potentially dangerous situations, it is also important to remember that there are many other dangerous aspects of just about any job. Case in point: A recent situation involves Delta Airline employees and the safety of their uniforms.

Delta Airline’s Uniforms Have Been Reported to Cause Serious Issues

Just over a year ago, Delta Airline introduced new uniforms for about 64,000 of its employees. A report in an Atlanta newspaper shows that many employees are already having serious reactions to these uniforms. Symptoms they report include rashes, headaches, and fatigue – and these have been linked to their uniforms. Now those employees are filing a class-action lawsuit against the company that made the uniforms, Land’s End. Delta is not currently named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The Uniforms in Question Were Treated with Chemicals

According to the two plaintiffs, the uniforms have caused rashes and skin irritation, caused by chemicals used on the uniforms. The chemicals were designed to prevent wrinkles and stains but have allegedly caused serious adverse skin reactions, low blood cell counts, and headaches since they were first worn.

The lawsuit further says that since Delta employees are at-will employees and can be let go at any time for any reason (or no reason), they are afraid to complain about the uniforms in the event they may be let go as a result. The lawsuit claims that some employees wore long underwear or similar undergarments to protect their skin from the uniforms.

The lawsuit says that the injuries have been caused by defective design, negligence, manufacturing defects, and failure to warn employees. Delta said they have received complaints about their uniforms but that the complaints only came from a small percentage of the employees who were required to wear them. A Delta spokesperson said they have spent $20 million on the uniforms that they will offer a new option that is not treated with the chemicals that are allegedly causing the issues – but only for an employee who can provide medical documentation that the uniforms affected them.

What is the Law on These Issues?

Federal law requires that an employer provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. In this particular situation, it seems that numerous employees are suffering poor working conditions due to these uniforms. The question is whether the plaintiff of the suit, Land’s End, knew that their product was likely to cause these side effects, or should have known they would. This is currently a case of a faulty product but could turn into a case involving an unsafe work environment.