Electrical Workers' Union wants to get rid
of creosote-impregnated poles
Helsinki (05.08.2007 - Juhani Artto) In Finland it is common to impregnate
wooden electricity poles with creosote. The application of creosote serves as a
preservative. The Electrical Workers' Union now insists that companies stop using
creosote-impregnated poles in favour of saver, less risky options, with a view to
One of the targeted companies is Vattenfall, one of the largest electricity generators in Europe.
Recently the company has expanded the use of creosote-impregnated electricity poles in Finland.
Vattenfall is owned by the Swedish state.
There is considerable scientific evidence which leaves no doubt that direct contact with
creosote may cause rashes and irritation of the skin and, more damagingly, harm
respiratory organs. In more serious cases creosote may damage the eyes, kidney and liver.
One possible consequence is cancer.
In 2001 the European Council adopted a Directive that limits the usage of creosote.
However, the Directive does not forbid impregnation of electricity poles with creosote
along with a number of other creosote applications.
During the course of daily work it is practically impossible to protect oneself from
direct contact with creosote, if poles are impregnated with it, experienced electrical
workers say. There is no lack of relevant protective clothing, masks, shoes etc. but they
do not solve the problem, as the risk not only looms when using them but also when
cleaning, storing and maintaining them.
Therefore the union has approached all stakeholders suggesting an immediate abandonment of
creosote-impregnated poles. It is the only alternative, says Sauli Väntti, the bargaining
secretary of the Electrical Workers' Union.