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Finland’s Electrical Workers’ Union Wants Utility Pole Creosote Use to End

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11 August, 2008

Elbranschernas Fackforbund BF, the ICEM’s Electrical Workers’ Union affiliate in Finland, has mounted a health and safety campaign against the use of creosote-treated wooden utility poles, reports Trade Union News of Finland. The union has targeted the Swedish firm Vattenfall, which has recently expanded the use of creosote on and inside of electrical poles in Finland.

Direct evidence leaves little doubt that contact with creosote causes rashes and irritation, and could possibly lead to harmful damage to respiratory organs, reports the newsletter. Creosote is used as a preservative on and inside of wooden utility poles.

The Electrical Workers’ Union claims it is impossible for utility workers not to have contact with creosote-stained poles in their daily work. Union Bargaining Secretary Sauli Vantti said the only alternative is for stakeholders of all utilities to implement an immediate cessation of wood treated with the resin fibre.

In 2001, the European Council adopted a Directive that limits the use of creosote. But the Directive did not forbid its injection into electrical poles, or application on poles.

The union is asking utility companies to find less harmful means to preserve wooden utility poles.