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    July 11, 2004

    Karoshi is a Japanese word meaning death from overwork. It was first identified in Japan, and the word is adopted internationally. The term has been used since the 1970s by progressive medical experts, occupational safety and health (OSH) activists, trade unionists, and lawyers.
    Since the 1980s, the media has covered this issue intensely.Karoshi reflects the contradictions of Japan’s industrial growth, partly achieved through sacrificing Japanese workers.Since the latter half of the 1980s, karojisatsu (suicide from overwork) has also become a big social issue in Japan.Under the rationalisation and restructuring following
    the bursting of the bubble economy, the suicide rate among the working-age population has increased dramatically.
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    April 11, 2004

    Asbestos exposure: the myth of ‘controlled use’
    With dwindling markets in developed countries, the global asbestos industry focuses on emerging markets in developing countries. This policy development is similar to that in the tobacco industry, where decreased consumption of tobacco led to the exploitation of markets in developing countries, where asbestos use is increasing at an annual rate of seven percent. Asia in particular has emerged as one of the largest markets for asbestos consumption, with China, India, Japan, Indonesia and South Korea among the world’s top 10 in 2000. The Montreal based Asbestos Institute, which is the vanguard for the promotion of chrysotile (white asbestos), has argued relentlessly about its safe use under ‘controlled conditions’.It is hard to understand how such conditions could be achieved in Asia where, to reduce production costs, even simple safety regulations are flouted regularly.
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    Asbestos:Miracle Mineral, Human Disaster

    April 11, 2004

    Asbestos is one of the substances in the modern industrial world that has caused unprecedented death and destruction among the human population, though the true picture of the disaster will probably never be known. It was formerly labelled a ‘miracle mineral’ due to its special properties that include strength, flexibility, low electrical conductivity, and resistance to heat and chemicals.These properties led to its mining in the late nineteenth century, since when it has been and continues to be used for thousands of products in innumerable workplaces.

    There is no doubt that workers’ and the general global population’s exposure to it has caused serious health hazards, which include a range of lung diseases, not least cancer of the lungs. Asbestos was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in the twentieth century, though no one knows the exact number yet, as it takes between 10 to 40 years for an individual to develop a lung disease associated with exposure to asbestos. In many industrialised countries today, asbestos-related deaths are the leading cause of death at the workplace, more even than occupational accidents.
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    Who cares?

    October 11, 2003

    By Sanjiv Pandita
    Workplaces or Death Traps?
    Work-related accidents and diseases are among the major killers of humans in the 21st century.
    Most of us, however, do not realise the severity of the problem. If we take the International Labour Organisation (ILO) projection for the year 2000 (based on data collected in 1998), globally about two million workers die every year due to their work; the annual death toll from AIDS is about three million). This means a worker dies every 15 seconds somewhere in the world due to her/his occupation.It is not only the fatality figure that is a matter of concern, the number of occupationally-injured and diseased workers, who have to live with injury or disease,is also very high.
    The same ILO report puts the figure of occupational accidents globally at about 270 million and some 184 to 208 million workers suffer from workrelated diseases
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    Justice And Humanity Evasive In Hong Kong

    September 11, 2003

    6 September 2000 was just another working day for Nib Bahadur Sunar in Hong Kong. He was happy with his job at the Tin-Wo-Engineering company that was subcontracted by the construction giant Paul Y-ITC Construction Holdings, a Hong Kong-based company that has construction projects in seven countries in the Asia Pacific region.

    Paul Y-ITC in turn was contracted by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) that carries over two million persons every day.
    It was Sunar’s sixth day in this job. As one of four ‘steel fixers’ he loaded 20 to 30 12-metre steel reinforcing rods into a rod-bending machine. Sunar’s job was to hold the rods while the machine bent them.
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