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    UK Firm Fined $972,000 in Asbestos Case

    May 9, 2017

    “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 8, 2017

    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

    May 4, 2017

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

    Asbestos Industry Sabotages UN Rotterdam Convention

    May 4, 2017

    May 4, 2017: At the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, taking place in Geneva this week, a tiny number of countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, India, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Syria – thumbed their noses at the scientific evidence and the wishes of the rest of the world and refused to allow chrysotile asbestos to be put on the Convention’s list of hazardous substances.

    The Rotterdam Convention requires countries to obtain Prior Informed Consent from any country to which they wish to export a hazardous substance on the Convention’s list. The Convention thus provides a basic democratic right that enables countries to  better protect their populations and environment.

    The Rotterdam Convention requires decisions to put a hazardous substance on its list to be made by consensus. For more than a decade, a handful of countries that profit from the asbestos trade, have denied consensus and thus sabotaged the Convention.

    Parties to the Convention agreed a decade ago that chrysotile asbestos met all the criteria for listing. The Convention’s expert scientific committee has for a decade called for chrysotile asbestos to be put on the Convention’s list. As the World Health Organization stated at the conference in Geneva this week, evidence that chrysotile asbestos is carcinogenic is “conclusive and overwhelming.”

    A dozen African countries have proposed amending the Convention to allow a decision to list a hazardous substance to be taken by a ¾ majority vote, if consensus proves impossible, as is allowed under the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, that also deal with hazardous substances.

    It is to be hoped that in the remaining two days of the conference, countries will approve the amendment. The Rotterdam Convention can be amended by a 3/4 majority vote.

    If the Convention is not amended, it will be seen as a failed Convention. For more than a decade, the Convention has protected the profits of the asbestos industry, instead of human and environmental health. If the Convention is not amended, this injustice will continue endlessly and the Convention will lose all credibility.

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

    Asian Delegation at COP 8 – Media Event Updates

    May 3, 2017

    May 2, 2017: The Asian delegation at COP8 is made up of grassroots organisations from India – Occupational Health Environment Network of India (OHENI), Indonesia – Local Initiative on OSH (LION), Vietnam Ban Asbestos Network (VN BAN), Vietnam. The delegation is supported by – Asian Ban Asbestos Network (ABAN), Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), Union Aid Abroad APHEDA , Rotterdam Convention Alliance (ROCA), International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) and Solidar Suisse.

    The delegation participated in a media event on the morning of May 2 at 9:30 am, held outside the conference venue organised by the Global Asbestos Action Alliance , which was followed by handing the petition of 7,000 signatories from around the world to the President of the COP Rotterdam Convention.

    Philip Hazelton from APHEDA introduced the media event and warned of a convention in crisis, as the veto by a small number of countries continues with listing chrysotile among other chemicals on the convention. He expressed the importance of the proposal put forward by 12 African countries to reform Article 22 of the Rotterdam Convention that is aimed at ‘democratising’ the decision-making process and the need for listing Asbestos under the Annex III of the Convention.

    Representatives from the global trade union movement spoke about the dangers of asbestos, a known carcinogen that has caused death and destruction in many countries and yet continues to be consumed in Asia and developing nations of Africa and Latin America. They highlighted the grave problems that persisted in the Rotterdam convention where a few countries are blocking the listing taking away the democratic right of user countries to know about the hazards the substance possess.   Andrew Dettmer from Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and IndustriALL , Fiona Murie from The Building and Wood workers International (BWI), Sari Saarinen from the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) spoke to support the listing of asbestos under Annex III of the Convention.

    The media and those present at the press conference then listened to a powerful testimony from Siti Kristina a victim of asbestos related disease gave a testimony about exposure to asbestos while she worked at a factory in a asbestos textile factory in Indonesia. She worked in the factory for 23 years and then she fell sick. She has been diagnosed with asbestosis. Rajendra Pevekar who is a victim of secondary exposure of asbestos spoke next as his father worked as a sweeper at the asbestos factory. He came home and his clothes were full of asbestos dust and fibres therefore exposing members of his family to asbestos. Both Rajendra and his mother are now victims of asbestos related cancer.

    Jagdish Patel from OEHNI, expressed concern about the continued use of asbestos in India, which continues to be one of the largest importers of asbestos globally exposing millions to the risk of asbestos exposure. Absence of proper diagnosis does not reflect the true magnitude of the problem since majority of Asbestos Related Disease cases remain undiagnosed. He urged the Indian government to take the step in right direction by both listing the Asbestos on the Annex III and support the amendment of the Article 22.

    The ABAN network is led by the Victims (both occupational and environmental) and is comprised of trade unions, labour and other human rights organisations in more than 16 Asian countries. It recognizes Asia as a flashpoint for Asbestos Epidemic considering its continued use. ABAN aims towards complete elimination of Asbestos Related Diseases in Asia, and listing of asbestos in Annex III is a major step towards that.

    Prepared by: Omana George, Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC)image4

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