Uniforms May Cause Illness in Flight Attendants

Union leaders representing the more than 2,500 Alaska Airlines’ employees filed a complaint with the company stating that new uniforms used by the employees may be causing hair loss, skin irritation, and breakouts.

Speaking to Seattle’s King5 news, one flight attendant said “I’ve never had a uniform like this. I broke out this week. I broke out on my back first, then on my legs.”

The outfits, made by uniform maker TwinHill, may be contaminated with tributyl phosphate, King5 reports, citing union sources. The chemical is a toxic solvent that’s used in synthetic textile manufacturing.

An official with the airline tells King5 that two alternate uniforms have been made available to flight attendants.

Last year, Virgin Blue flight attendants complained that their new uniforms, which were designed by a “Project Runway” alum, were a “hindrance” in an emergency as “the arms cannot be lifted above shoulder height due to the ill-fitting design and in the event of a fire, being 100 per cent polyester it would be like having plastic melted on to the skin.” Huffington Post, 4 May 2012.

Symptoms of contact with tributyl phosphate include irritation of the eye and skin, acute nausea, and headache. Persons with a history of respiratory disease or skin conditions are particularly vulnerable to tributyl phosphate. To see more information, see this briefing on tributyl phosphate on the CDC website.

It is not known what legal issues Alaska Airlines and TwinHill Uniforms could face. Any claims by Alaska Airlines’ workers would be covered by workers’ compensation. Civil lawsuits against TwinHill are also a possibility. Our firm is currently reviewing a potential lawsuit on behalf of an Alaska Airlines flight attendant. If you think you have a potential case against Alaska Airlines, please contact us at 888-212-0440 or submit a free case evaluation form in the sidebar to the right of this post.