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New TSA uniforms prompt rash of complaints


Transportation Security Administration employees could be itching their way toward workers comp claims, given rashes they blame on new uniforms.

The agency responsible for U.S. airport security recently switched from white shirts to blue shirts as part of a new uniform designed to give its workers a more professional look.

But the union representing TSA workers, the Washington-based American Federation of Government Employees, alleges the new shirts caused several members to suffer from rashes and other problems such as lightheadedness.

The union accused managers of hindering some workers from filing workers comp claims related to formaldehyde used in making the shirts, but the TSA said it would not hinder filing comp claims and it is concerned about workers' safety.

The union called on Nashville, Tenn.-based VF Solutions to replace the uniforms and said it had filed a complaint with the Department of Labor.

The TSA said it was testing the shirts for irritants including formaldehyde but said independent tests found no problems.

The TSA also said it made all-cotton replacements available for the cotton-blend uniforms in question.

"Only 20 of our 45,000 (employees) have complained so far. So...there's no need to replace all of the uniforms," the TSA said in its blog.

While manufacturers use formaldehyde to make clothes permanent press, the chemical has added a wrinkle to the employer-employee relationship.