Workers Suing iPhone Manufacturing Partner Over Chemical Poisoning
Barron's points to a research report from Stratfor Global Intelligence noting that 44 Chinese workers are preparing to file a lawsuit against LCD manufacturer Wintek after dozens of workers have been hospitalized due to poisoning from n-hexane used to clean iPhone screens.
Stratfor notes that at least 62 Wintek workers have been hospitalized since August 2009 due to n-hexane poisoning, a chemical "which can cause nerve damage and sometimes paralysis."
The note also cites media reports claiming that the factory manager had forced the company's workers to use the chemical instead of a safer alcohol product because of either faster drying times or reduced streakiness.
The Stratfor post says that according to some media reports, the factory manager in Suzhou made the workers use the chemical because it dries faster than alcohol, while other reports said it was used because it leaves fewer streaks than alcohol. The piece notes that the factory manager has since been fired.
The Stratfor article also claims that reports have suggested that the change to using n-hexane was made at Apple's request.
In addition to the iPhone, Wintek has been a primary supplier of touchscreens for the iPad. "Manufacturing bottlenecks" at the company have been blamed for tight supplies of the iPad, although a report has suggested that Apple is shifting even more production to the company as other partners have also struggled with delays.