Another call has been made for a global ban on the sandblasting of jeans, with campaigners urging other brands to join Levi-Strauss and Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) who have already said they intend to end the practice.

Labour rights groups claim sandblasting - a finishing technique that gives a faded, worn out or bleached look to denim fabric - poses unacceptable health risks to sandblasting operators. Indeed, they say tens of thousands of people working in the jeans industry are at risk of dying.

As well as urging jeans brands to stop selling sandblasted jeans, groups such as the Turkish-based Solidarity Committee of Denim Sandblasting Labourers, together with the Clean Clothes Campaign, and the US-based International Labor Rights Forum want governments to consider a ban on imports of these products.

Sandblasting operators working in the countries where the garments are produced - such as Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Pakistan and Egypt - contract an acute form of silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease.

In Turkey alone, there are 46 known cases where former sandblasting operators have died because of sandblasting-related silicosis. The practice was banned by the government there in March 2009, but according to the organisations, there could be many more than the registered number of cases.

A phase-out on all jeans sandblasting from garment supply chains is key, the campaigners argue, because international sub-contracting makes it impossible for jeans producers to guarantee the complicated safety procedures necessary to sandblast jeans in a safe way.

In September, Levi-Strauss and H&M said they would stop selling sandblasted jeans for this reason.

"Such positive signals are encouraging, and shows that the industry is ready to act on this issue," says Mr Wyger Wentholt of the Clean Clothes Campaign.

"Still, actions by a few companies alone will not be enough to cover the entire sector. We encourage governments to look into a possible importation ban for these jeans."

"We also want these brands to take up responsibility for the damage done, and ensure that proper medical care and compensations are given to the victims of jeans sandblasting," adds Ms Yesim Yasin of the Turkish Solidarity Committee.