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    • UK Firm Fined $972,000 in Asbestos Case

      “It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions,” said HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe. “Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibers on the site is reckless.”

      May 8, 2017: A judge in Britain has fined Barroerock Construction Limited £750,000 — about $972,000 in U.S. dollars — and ordered the construction contractor to pay costs of £14,874.68 for repeated asbestos violations, the Health and Safety Executive reported.

      The court heard details of two HSE investigations at a single site in 2013 and 2014 where Barroerock workers were converting a nine-story office building into apartments in Kent. The building was known to contain asbestos, according to the agency.

      The first investigation was a routine inspection during one of HSE’s refurbishment campaigns; HSE says as many as 40 workers were exposed to asbestos during the early demolition phase of the project. The second investigation brought a visit to the site in June 2014 after complaints were made about health and safety practices at the site.

      “It was found that despite engaging a licensed asbestos contractor to remove the remaining asbestos materials, dangerous practices were continuing. In addition the company was unable to provide documentation to show that asbestos materials identified in the survey had been correctly removed. When the work on site was halted for the second time about 160 people were working inside the building,” according to HSE. “It was found in both HSE investigations that these incidents could have been prevented if Barroerock ensured they had effective management controls in place to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos.”

      The company pleaded guilty to two offenses of breaching Regulation 22 (1) (a) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007 at an earlier hearing. “The company’s failings in this case have put many workers at risk to the exposure of asbestos. It was clear there was an endemic failure to effectively manage the construction work on the site in a way which ensured that asbestos materials were not disturbed until removed under appropriate conditions,” said HSE Inspector Melvyn Stancliffe. “Failing to prevent the breathing in of asbestos fibers on the site is reckless.”

       

      Source: https://ohsonline.com/articles/2017/05/08/uk-firm-fined-in-asbestos-case.aspx?admgarea=news

    • Rotterdam Convention: No progress on democratic right to be protected from hazardous substances

      May 7, 2017: The 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP8) ended on May 5, 2017. It will be two years before the next conference takes place in 2019.

      Ever since the Convention came into beginning, the asbestos industry has refused to allow chrysotile asbestos to be put on the Convention’s list of hazardous substances, even though chrysotile asbestos meets all the criteria for listing. At COP 8, once again, a handful of countries, led by asbestos exporters, Russia and Kazakhstan, simply refused to allow the rights contained in the Convention to be implemented by refusing consensus.

      Frustrated by the asbestos industry’s endless sabotage of the Convention, a group of twelve African countries put forward an amendment to the Convention at COP8 that would allow a 3/4 majority vote to take the decision to list a hazardous substance, when consensus proves impossible. This amendment would end the ability of a small group of countries to sabotage the Convention in order to protect industry profits.

      Countries did not vote on the African amendment at COP8. Instead they officially noted “the different options for enhancing the effectiveness of the Rotterdam Convention, including improving the prior informed consent procedure (and) improving the listing process” and requested the Secretariat “to develop an online survey to gather information on priority actions to enhance the effectiveness of the Convention.” They established a working group with membership composed of representatives from Parties “to identify, on the basis of the report and comments received  a set of prioritized recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of the Convention, and develop a report identifying further steps for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at its ninth meeting.”

      In other words, after a decade of sabotage of the Convention and failure to take action to address the sabotage, the Parties to the Convention will spend another two years discussing the problem and will “consider” the problem at the next conference in 2019.

      This endless failure to act sends a message that the double standard continues to rule in the world and that the lives of populations in the Global South are provided lesser rights to be protected from harm from hazardous substances than the rest of the world.

      In addition to chrysotile asbestos, the listing of carbosulfan, fenthion, and a paraquat formulation was blocked by a small number of countries.

       

      Source: https://www.rightoncanada.ca/?p=4030

      Prepared by: Kathleen Ruff, e-mail: kruff@bulkley.net

    • Asbestos harms the health of millions of Indian workers

      Story by Jagdish Patel, national coordinator of the Occupational & Environmental Health Network, India:

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