CAW HEALTH, S AFETY AND E NVIRONMENT
Published by CAW Health and Safety Department
205 Placer Court, Toronto, Ontario M2H 3H9
Telephone 416-495-6558 or 1-800-268-5763
Fax 416-495-3785 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 13 No. 1 January/February 2005
Health & Safety BAD BACK? SORE WRISTS? THESE
MEN HAVE PROMISED TO HELP.
What’s New . . . . .
Ergonomics regulations recently received
Trade Unions can play an a major boost from the two men who can
important role in Health & make them happen.
Safety Pg. 4
Cancer Smart Consumer Guide
Asbestos On Line Pg. 9
Asbestos Exposure in India
Chris Bentley, Ontario Joe Fontana, Federal
Minister of Labour Minister of Labour
Opening the WSIB sponsored November 18th
Don’t Forget to Check Out The
conference on occupational health and safety
CAW Health & Safety Home Page
research, Ontario Minister of Labour, Chris
Bentley, announced his intention to strike a
committee to develop strategies to prevent
repetitive strain injuries. The committee’s
scope would include best practices and the
development of regulations.
In his December 3rd address to the 1,000
delegates and observers to the CAW Council
meeting in Toronto, new federal Minister of increased safety for workers. We believe
Labour, Joe Fontana, expressed strong you are sincere in wanting to make
support for both ergonomics regulations and workplaces safer and healthier. Please re-
workplace violence regulations. instate the card check to make it easier for
workers to join unions so their lives, limbs
Too many workers in Canada have had back and health are better protected. Take a look
injuries and repetitive strain injuries from at the evidence to see why unions are needed
improperly designed tools, equipment, work to make workplaces safer and healthier.
stations, work places and work organization.
It’s time all Canadians had ergonomics
regulations to protect them from these
serious and disabling strains and sprains
injuries. British Columbia and Saskatchewan
workers have had ergonomics regulations
since 1998 and 1996. It’s time the rest of
Canada caught up.
On February 28th, International RSI
Awareness Day, write a letter, sign a
A new report published this year from the
petition, march on Parliament Hill or Queen’s
International Labour Organization (ILO)
Park to show your support for ergonomics
highlights the crucial union role in securing
safer, healthier work and “argues strongly
for a strengthening of collective voice as the
(Check out the CAW Ergonomics Manual at:
primary means of improving working
conditions, and protecting workers’ health”.
Economic security for a better world
published by the ILO Socio-Economic
Open letter to:
Security Programme, says self-regulation and
The Honourable Chris Bentley
a weak workforce “voice” are bad for health
Minister of Labour
and safety, adding that “strong voice
representation is associated with strong
Dear Mr. Bentley:
protection of workers’ health and well-being”.
Re: Unions make workplaces safer;
UNITED UNITED KINGDOM, 2003
Re-instate the card-check
We very much appreciate the interest you
have shown in the area of occupational health
and safety. Things are moving ahead under The head of Britain’s Health and Safety
your leadership and we look forward to Commission has praised the union role that
seeing more progress in the future. leads to lower accident rates in unionized
workplaces. Health and Safety Commission
You may or may not be aware of the chair Bill Callaghan said: “The impact of
relationship between unionization and trade unions on workplace health and safety
is immensely beneficial. We know that the Whelan, industrial officer with the Irish
presence of a recognized union lowers the Congress of Trade Unions, the report
accident rate by a quarter compared with vindicates everything the construction unions
non-union establishments.” had been saying.
USA STRAINS AND SPRAINS HEALTH and SAFETY IN BRITAIN,
INJURIES, 2003 2002
Union members with strain injuries are far The health and safety “union effect” is
more likely to receive compensation and less explained at length in the British periodical
likely to suffer damaging social consequences Hazards (2002) in which editor Rory O’Neill
after a work -related injury than non-union says, “Union know -how and organization is not
workers. only good for your livelihood – it can be a life
saver. And as well as preventing thousands
Research published last year in the American of serious workplace accidents each year,
Journal of Industrial Medicine “found that newly developed union safety tools and
workers with unions at the workplace had strategies are extending the lifesaving union
approximately a six times increased rate of safety effect beyond union workplaces.
filing a likely work -related musculoskeletal Union organized workplaces are much safer
disorder” claim for workers’ compensation workplaces, because union safety reps have
compared to non-union workplaces with a the knowledge, skills, rights and influence to
similar level of strains. The study concluded make sure they are safer.” The publication
unions promote earlier identification of sites a plethora of evidence including
strain injury cases, making effective research by the London School of Economics
interventions possible. showing that “labour possesses vital, tacit,
shopfloor knowledge regarding health and
safety, knowledge that is imperative for
CONSTRUCTION SAFETY IN
reducing accident rates” and Health and
IRELAND, 2002 Safety Executive-backed research (the HSE
is the UK equivalent of the Ontario Ministry
A study of safety in construction in 2002 of Labour) showed companies using chemicals
commissioned by the Health and Safety know little about the safety laws they are
Authority of Ireland (the equivalent of the supposed to observe. Most trade union
Ontario Ministry of Labour) confirmed the representatives, on the other hand, know
relationship between the existence of a union about and understand the law, the safety
safety representative on a construction site watchdog found.
and safer working conditions. The report
stated that the presence of a safety CANADIAN STUDIES SHOW UNION
representative on site was associated with WORKPLACES SAFER (1993, 1994,
better compliance, a greater likelihood of and 1996)
reporting risky situations and a greater
likelihood of seeing them remedied. The
report is called Safe Behaviour in the A 1993 study done for Canadian
Construction Sector and according to Fergus Ministries of Labour said that union
supported health and safety committees
have a significant “impact in reducing injury AUSTRALIAN WORKPLACE
rates”. INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS SURVEY,
In 1994 and 1996, studies done for the
Ontario Workplace Health and Safety
Unionized workplaces in Australia are three
Agency found that 78-79% of unionized
times as likely to have a health and safety
workplaces reported high compliance with
committee and twice as likely to have
health and safety legislation while only 54-
undergone a management occupational health
61% of non-unionized workplaces reported
and safety audit in the previous 12 months,
such compliance. In Ontario, non-union
the major government survey, Australian
workplaces had been helped considerably by
Workplace Industrial Relations Survey,
the legal requirement for health and safety
representative certification training, which
initially included up to three weeks of
training. WESTRAY TRAGEDY, 1992
IN 1995, THE WORLD BANK
“Trade unions can play an
important role in enforcing
health and safety
workers may find it too
costly to obtain information on health and
safety risks on their own, and they usually
want to avoid antagonizing their employers
by insisting that standards be respected. Twenty-six miners died in the Westray
explosion in the Nova Scotia coal mine in
A union can spread the cost of obtaining 1992. They had no union to represent them.
information on health and safety issues In testimony by Westray Miner Wayne
among all workers, bargain with employers Cheverie before the Westray inquiry he
on the level of standards to be observed, explained if the mine had been well managed
and monitor their enforcement without – if there had been proper work plans,
putting any individual worker at risk of adequate supervision and training, and proper
losing his or her job. enforcement of mining and safety regulations
– the coal dust and methane gas would have
Studies in industrial countries indicate that been controlled and nobody would have died
the role of labor unions in ensuring at Westray. But the mine was not well
compliance with health and safety managed or regulated, and the miners were
standards is often an important one.” on their own. The available options were to
quit or to try to make the best of a bad
Westray miner Shaun Cornish gave evidence OCEAN RANGER, TRAGEDY, 1982
before the inquiry. These are quotes from
“Q. And is it fair to say that ... in both union
drives, safety concerns were matters that
were raised by Westray employees?
A. They were the paramount thing, yes.
Q. ... was it your hope that is one of those
union drives was successful that something
would be done about safety at Westray?
A. Yeah, I still believe it would have been.
Something – you know, because alone – they
were frightened ... Even though you’re as
alone as you were before, they feel together
It has been twenty-two years since 84 men
and they would have done something.”
died on the Ocean Ranger off Newfoundland.
Located on the Hibernia field, 315 kilometres
U.S. STUDY SHOWS UNION southeast of St. John’s on the Grand Banks,
WORKPLACES ARE SAFER, 1991 the Ocean Ranger sank in the wild winter
seas in one of Canada’s worst marine
A 1991 study, using U.S. data, found that disasters. In testimony before the Ocean
unions dramatically increased enforcement of Ranger Royal Commission, on December 15,
the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1982, the government inspector, who was last
the manufacturing sector. to survey the rig before it sank, had this to
Unionized firms had a higher probability of “An entire roughneck (drilling) crew of
having a health and safety inspection, and four to five men had quit over an
their inspections tended to be more probing, injury to an inexperienced fellow
as employees exercised their ‘walkaround worker, he said.
rights’ -- the right to accompany a
government inspector during a workplace Freeman’s report said verbal abuse of
tour. the roughnecks by the driller ‘was
normal ODECO procedure.’ Ocean
According to figures reported by the World Drilling and Exploration Co. was the
Bank, there may be a 95% probability of a owner of the rig and in charge of its
government health and safety inspection if drilling crews.
there is a union versus only 16% if there is
none. The quality of inspections improve Verbal abuse, Freeman alleged, was
dramatically if the government inspector is one of the causes of an accident in
accompanied by an employee who is which a new worker on the drill floor
knowledgeable in the hazards of the lost two fingers when they were
workplace. caught in an elevator.
Freeman also testified that
supervisors on the Ranger and other
offshore rigs seemed to be CENTRE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL
cooperative with federal inspectors, HEALTH
but that there was a widespread Windsor, Ontario
feeling among ordinary crew members
that they should keep quiet about
problems on their vessels. The Centre for Environmental Health is now
providing information related to
‘The crew often seem to feel, rightly environmental health “ON-LINE” at:
or wrongly, that they will lose their www.cehontario.org
jobs if they give information to
The Centre for Environmental Health of
inspectors,’ he said.
Ontario (CEH) is a community based, non-
profit organization established to assess the
Occasionally, they would volunteer
possible human health effects due to
information about the rigs, but usually
environmental pollutants. Through research,
with a request they not be identified,
public dissemination of information,
educational workshops and policy
(Canadian Press article)
development, the CEH intends to become a
model for environmental leadership in
If the Ocean Ranger workers had been
unionized, they would have had an effective
health and safety committee that could have The CEH web-site will provide current
ensured that they had sound health and information on local or provincial health and
safety education and training. If they had environment related study’s, campaigns,
been unionized, they would not have been contact information, on-line discussion areas
afraid to speak out to a government and solutions to make Ontario a cleaner,
inspector. They might be alive today if their safer environment to live in.
concerns about safety had been acted upon. The Centre for Environmental Health works
in partnership with other organizations and
UNIONS CREATE HEALTHIER AND professionals on air and water quality issues,
SAFER WORKPLACES “to enhance community capacity to prevent
environmental and occupational illness and
The presence of a union creates a healthier improve public health.”
and safer workplace. This is our job. This is Every week you will see more and more
what unions are for. This is not just our information as we provide environment and
opinion, however. Experts in Canada and health related information to help build a
throughout the world agree. better future.
CAW Windsor and Regional Environment
Please, use your good offices to re-instate
Council (WREC) President, Ken Bondy, is
the card check to make it easier for workers
Vice-President of the Centre.
to have union representation.
The CAW WREC home page is:
(If you want more information on “The Union http://cawwrec.org/ It has lots of good
Effect”, check out information on it.
CANCER SMART CONSUMER GUIDE plans for substituting those products with
Labour Environmental Alliance Society safer, environmentally-friendly alternatives.
(LEAS) Known as the Cleaners, Toxins and the
Ecosystem project, it involved dozens of
workers at institutional and industrial
An innovative booklet that was originally worksites in monitoring Material Safety Data
inspired by CAW’s Prevent Cancer campaign Sheets and using their health and safety
is grabbing a lot of attention in British rights to make their workplace safer.
Columbia. And its popularity is growing even In the course of the project “a lot of
outside the province. workers would ask: how do we find out what’s
in the household products we use so we can
The Vancouver-based Labour Environmental do this at home?” said LEAS researcher Sean
Alliance Society (LEAS) launched The Griffin, the editor and lead author of the
CancerSmart Consumer Guide in April, 2004 guide. “The answer is that it’s difficult to get
and within five months, it was into its third that information because consumers don’t
printing of 2,000. The third printing is nearly have the right to know. We developed this
sold out as well, as people order copies for Guide so that people could see the toxins in
$5 over the Internet and unions, health their everyday products and to give them
organizations and environmental groups some strategies for making changes.” In
continue to put in bulk orders. fact dozens of household products and
consumer pesticides contain carcinogens or
reproductive toxins — and most consumers
don’t realize what they’re being exposed to,
“Every year Canadians are exposed to
numerous carcinogenic chemicals in the food
they eat and the products they use — and
they don’t know they’re being exposed
because the ingredients are not identified or
explained,” said LEAS executive director
Mae Burrows. “This Guide provides that
information and provides practical solutions
that help reduce their cancer risk and help
the environment too.”
The LEAS office was swamped with calls The Guide, the first ever of its kind in
following a story about the Guide on CBC Canada, identifies the carcinogens and
Almanac, a local B.C. radio show. reproductive toxins that show up in
The Guide grew out of an earlier LEAS household pesticides, cleaning and home
project that took environmental researchers maintenance products and foods. It offers
into the workplace, where they worked with easily-available alternatives that enable
occupational health and safety committees to consumers to reduce their risk of exposure
target toxic cleaning products and develop and to make safer, healthier product choices.
The 24-page booklet includes tables and lists To order the Guide, visit www.leas.ca and
of brand name products and alternatives. It follow the link or send $5 plus $2 postage to
was written by Griffin, together with LEAS, 1203–207 West Hastings, Vancouver,
pesticide researcher Vijay Cuddeford, in B.C. V6B 1H7. The cost is $4 per copy for
conjunction with an advisory committee made orders of 5-100 copies, and $3.50 for orders
up of physicians, epidemiologists and health of 101 or more.
and safety professionals.
Burrows pointed out that the latest Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer
statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society
suggest that the incidence of cancer is
expected to rise 60 per cent over the next www.Mesothelioma-Resource-Directory.com
20 years. “We believe we can help reduce is a recently released online resource for
those numbers — and this Guide is part of those affected by exposure to asbestos. It
that work,” she said. is presented by private Canadian individuals
involved in the struggle for workers affected
“We need to look at environmental factors as by asbestos. The site offers extensive
well as lifestyle in our cancer prevention listings of links to resources including; types
programs,” said Dr. Dorothy Goldin of mesothelioma, symptoms, testing,
Rosenberg, a leading educator on the diagnosis, various forms of treatment,
environmental links to breast cancer and the doctors, support groups, research, activist
education coordinator for the Toronto-based groups, education groups, union groups, legal
Women’s Healthy Environments Network info and much more...
(WHEN). She pointed to a 1997 World
Health Organization report, which estimated Please visit www.Mesothelioma-Resource-
that at least 25 per cent of cancers Directory.com for more info.
worldwide are caused by exposure to
environmental carcinogens, such as pesticides ASBESTOS EXPOSURE IN INDIA
and chemicals. “The information that’s in this Canada should help, not harm Indian
Guide can help people see the carcinogens workers
they’re being exposed to in everyday
products and help them find ways to reduce
that exposure. That’s a major contribution to Background
cancer prevention.” Lyle Hargrove, Director, CAW Health &
The Labour Environmental Alliance was Safety Training Fund and Ron Moisenko,
formed in 1998 as an alliance between leading Coordinator, visited India in September,
activists from the labour and environmental 2004. This is their report.
movements. Its board includes CAW
members, notably national representative The reason for our visit to India was to
attend a International Conference on
Denise Kellahan, who is LEAS president.
Executive director Mae Burrows and “Asbestos Exposure in India” organized by
researcher Sean Griffin are members of the Centre for Occupational and
CAW Local 3000. Environmental Health (COEH), at Lok Nayak
Hospital, New Delhi and to attend a number
of meetings in both New Delhi and Calcutta Zimbabwe. Canada is a dominant exporter of
about the asbestos issue. asbestos in the world with its annual export
of about 3,000,000 tons. Over 70% of the
world's production is used in Eastern Europe
and Asia. In the industrialized countries, a
significant linear relationship exists between
the incidence of the cancer called
mesothelioma of the pleura (lining of the
lungs) and peritoneum (lining around the
stomach) and the per capita consumption of
asbestos in the past.
The conference included a call for an
international ban on asbestos, warning
From left Ron Moisenko seated and Lyle Hargrove, centre automobile mechanics about the hazards of
asbestos, drawing attention to Canadian
The Centre for Occupational and asbestos as a global concern, and highlighting
Environmental Health (COEH) is the asbestos related illness and deaths in India.
technical arm of the Government of NCT
Delhi created to deal with the occupational Dr. Tushar Kant Joshi
and environmental health concerns. The Dr.T.K.Joshi who heads the Occupational and
centre, founded in 1998, has taken a number Environmental Health department for the
of initiatives in collaboration with the government of India in Delhi, is one of the
Department of Labour, Delhi Pollution major advocates for the banning of asbestos
Control Committee, Ministry of Environment use in India and he was the key organizer and
and Forests, Ministry of Health, World host of the conference. Dr. Joshi was our
Health Organization and the Universities of main contact, he organized our daily events
Berkeley and Harvard as well trade unions to on who and when were going to meet with
raise the standards of occupational and people from various health and safety
environmental health care in India. departments, safety engineering
organizations, medical professionals and the
International Conference on “Asbestos trade union organizations in Delhi and
Exposure in India”, September, 2004 Calcutta.
Exposure to asbestos presents a major
health hazard in all industrialized countries
of the world. In Western Europe,
Scandinavia, North America, and Australia
the manufacture and use of asbestos
products peaked in the 1970s. At that time,
the worldwide production exceeded 5 million
tons, while the current level totals about 2
million tons. Today, the largest producers are Asbestos fibre
Russia, China, Canada, Kazakhstan, Brazil and
In India asbestos has been used in the that chrysotile asbestos be excluded from
manufacture of pressure and non-pressure this requirement that developing countries
pipes used for water supply, sewage, and be notified of the hazards before our
drainage, packing material, brake linings and asbestos is shipped to them.
jointing used in automobiles, heavy
equipment, nuclear power plants, and thermal Dr. Barry Castleman, Environmental
power plants among other things. Today, it is Consultant, from the U.S.A
mainly used in the construction industry as a
Dr. Barry Castleman an international expert
binder material in the production of cement
on occupational health has been a leading
roofing material and process piping. It has
advocate of an international ban on asbestos.
been used in the past in the automotive parts
Dr. Castleman explained, "Public concern,
industry for the manufacture of brake shoes.
regulations and liabilities involved have ended
Auto mechanics have been advised of the
the use of asbestos from the developed
dangers of asbestos exposure and
countries. But much needs to be done
procedures have been put in place to reduce
towards imposing a total ban on the use of
exposure to asbestos in brake repair work.
asbestos the world over. In India we are also
They are now using and manufacturing
trying to initiate dialogue with the
metallic brake shoes as a safer replacement.
government to look at the negative impact of
the continuous use of asbestos."
Alarmed at the continued use of asbestos
and the misinformation campaign of the
asbestos industry, environmentalists have
launched a public awareness campaign about
the hazards of asbestos. White asbestos,
chrysotile, continues to be in use in India.
Dr. Castleman explained that more than
forty countries have banned asbestos.
Ingrid Christensen (ILO)(Centre)
Ingrid Christensen (ILO)
The International Labour Organization (ILO)
representative Ingrid Christensen pointed
out the hazards of asbestos and the
importance of asbestos of all forms being
part of the Prior Informed Consent (PIC)
Procedure for certain Hazardous Chemicals
from the Rotterdam Convention. An
international meeting to discuss this issue Lyle Hargrove, Gopal Krishna & Barry Castleman
was to be held in Geneva, November 17,
2003. Chrysotile which is known as white Canadian Auto Workers (CAW)
asbestos, is produced in Canada. We gave the presentation on the Canadian
Unfortunately, to Canada’s shame, our perspective, on why and how we banned the
Canadian government successfully lobbied use of asbestos in the Big 3 automobile
plants; how we deal with the removal of rail, postal, telecom, banking, insurance
asbestos from our workplaces; and that the sectors as well as members in the
CAW supports the ban to stop the mining and unorganized sectors like construction
the export of this deadly substance workers and day-wagers, the CITU sees
chrysotile (white asbestos) to other itself as the unifying force of the working
countries. classes. Dr. M.K. Pandhe gave the workers’
perspective on asbestos. In West Bengal in
Canada promotes the sale of chrysotile the asbestos factories, the basic statutory
through the Montreal-based Asbestos regulations for the asbestos industries such
Institute (now it has re-christening itself as providing safety equipment to workers,
the Chrysotile Institute). Between 1984- providing periodic health check -ups, and
2001, the Asbestos Institute received a monitoring airborne asbestos dust were not
total of $54 million, two thirds of which being followed. Some of the factories even
came from public funds. Asbestos is mined did not maintain a proper employment
by two companies in the Province of Quebec – register and due to the employment contract
the Jeffery Mine Inc. in Asbestos and LAB system, the workers that work in the
Chrysotile Inc. in Thetford Mines. Over the factories never were recorded.
last twenty years, these companies have gone
Gopal Krishna, Toxics Link
to considerable lengths to claim that
asbestos can be used safely and responsibly.
Lyle chairing panel
Gopal Krishna Toxics Link, New Delhi
A very vocal Gopal Krishna, from Toxics Link,
made comments advocating the elimination of
Dr. J. Dunnigan, ACPMA Products the use of asbestos from daily life by using
Manufacture Association safer alternative fibre products that will not
Dr. Jacques Dunnigan was previously cause harm. There is not a single product in
employed by the Canadian Asbestos Institute day-to-day use at work or at home that
before his retirement and is now a needs to be made from or contain deadly
consultant. He continued to assert that asbestos -- yet over 3,000 workplace and
chrysotile asbestos could be used safely. home-based products contain this poison.
Dr. M.K. Pandhe president of CITU It is possible to eliminate the use of
(Centre of Indian Trade Unions) asbestos by redesigning the job or product,
The CITU is one of the biggest assemblies of or by using another, safer material.
workers in India. With a membership of 20 Manufacturers make safer alternative fibre
million spread out in the organized sectors of products and can control the fibre size so
they cannot be breathed in and do harm. Calcutta
We then boarded a plane that afternoon
Asbestos fibre is added to cement to from the New Delhi airport and in 1hour and
increase its strength but non-asbestos 45 minutes later we landed in Calcutta.
fibres can be used to do the same job.
Alternatively, fibrous cement can be Asbestos victims Calcutta press conference
completely replaced by using metal or plastic
to form the products.
Toxics Link emerged from a need to
establish a mechanism for disseminating
credible information about toxics in India,
and for raising the level of the debate on
these issues. The goal was to develop an
information exchange and support
organization that would use research and
advocacy in strengthening campaigns against
toxic pollution, help push industries towards IEI Institution of Engineers India. West
cleaner production, and link groups working Bengal and press conference
on toxics and waste issues. Currently, Toxics
Link has a main office in New Delhi, and two We started with a press conference with the
branch offices in Mumbai and Chennai. West Bengal media. A member from CITU
(Central Industrial Trade Union) brought
Dr. Tushar Kant Joshi Director, COEH, with him two workers from the construction
Dr. Joshi wrapped up the conference by trades; both are victims of exposure to
saying we are optimistic about the fact that asbestos and are suffering with
ultimately the misinformation campaign of mesothelioma. Barry Castleman spoke on
the asbestos industry will get defeated and issues of asbestos in India on alternatives
public health hazard due to exposure to they could be using instead of asbestos in
asbestos will get exposed. construction industry and the class action
law suits from victims against John Manville
Maulana Azad Medical College Corporation in the USA. Neither Canada nor
A social evening followed by invitation from the United States has made plans to ban the
Maulana Azad Medical College. We met and use of asbestos within its own borders. In
dined with the conference organizing the United States, the Ban Asbestos in
committee and other members from the America Act of 2003 did not pass. It would
Centre for Occupational and Environmental have prohibited the manufacture, processing,
Health and the trade union executive of BMS import, or distribution of asbestos–
(Bharatiya Mazadoor Sangh) national containing products in the United States.
level, state units and affiliated industrial
federations representing textile, jute, steel, We spoke on how the CAW negotiated in our
transport – docks & ports , postal, tele- collective agreements the prohibition on the
communications, sugar , pulp & paper, use of asbestos as well as its safe removal
cement , electricity, and railway. from the workplace and called for a ban in
Canada on the production and export of
asbestos. We also made mention of the in California for the manufacture of tampon
Asbestos Victims of Quebec group, the sanitary napkins.
workers and local people being affected from
exposure to asbestos from tailings becoming We spoke about how the CAW has worked
airborne and entering the homes and with the victims of asbestos from the
asbestos brought home on workers’ clothes Holmes Foundry in Sarnia, Ontario which
and exposing family members. closed in 1988 and the ongoing struggle to
make workers’ compensation claims for those
National Safety Council West Bengal who had worked and those that have died as
Chapter, a result of working with asbestos. Close to
The following day we were invited to attend 18 million dollars in compensation has been
and make our presentations with the Green won for those workers to give them some of
Triangle for Safety - National Safety the dignity and respect they and their
Council, West Bengal Chapter, a Workshop on families deserve.
Health & Safety Aspects of Asbestos.
Lyle addressing Green Triangle for Safety –
National Safety Council
National Safety Council West Bengal Chapter
Chittabrata Majumdar, General Secretary of We mentioned that compensation and
CITU, had concerns about how a global ban retraining for workers in India that work in
on asbestos might affect jobs in the Indian the asbestos industry would be justified
construction industry. A Dr. S.P.V.C. Rao which is in keeping with our support for just
from the Asbestos Containing Products transition for workers affected by potential
Manufacturers Association used material job losses from closures caused by
from the Canadian Asbestos Institute to try occupational or environmental health reasons.
to claim that chrysotile asbestos was less
harmful than other forms.
Dr. Barry Castleman explained that asbestos
workers in USA and others countries were
refused life insurance policies by insurance
companies when it was found out they worked
with asbestos. Union Carbide Corporation,
the company that was responsible for the
Bhopal tragedy in India, sold asbestos
mineral fibre to the pulp and paper industry CITU Executive with Lyle Hargrove and Ron Moisenko
We met with CITU executive Mr. office.
Chittabrata Majumdar, the General
Secretary which we met earlier at the
National Safety Council West Bengal
conference and Mr. Kali Ghosh the
Secretary. We had dialogue and discussion
on issues of possible job losses as result of
banning the use of asbestos in the
Dr. Barry Castleman suggested using Gopal Krishna, Toxics Link
alternative products. He advocated that
efforts should be made to substitute an Toxics Link is an information exchange and
estimated 3,000 asbestos products with support organization that uses research and
available alternatives such as steel, advocacy in strengthening campaigns against
manufactured inorganic fibres (MIF) and toxic pollution, helps push industries towards
polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fibre. PVA does not cleaner production, links groups working on
readily split into finer fibres, says the toxics and waste issues with credible
independent research organisation of the information about toxics in India, and raises
Environmental Resources Management. It the level of the debate on these issues.
thinks it safe to conclude that PVA fibres, of
the diameters used commercially, are unlikely
to pose a significant risk of the diseases
which have been associated with durable
The groups of workers highly exposed to
asbestos included welders, dock workers,
shipyard workers and a large industry of ship
dismantling in India, metal-plate workers, Gopal Krishna, Lyle Hargrove and Barry Castleman
vehicle body builders, railway wagon builders,
building trade workers, including plumbers, Gopal Krishna, spoke of the ACC Ltd.
gas fitters, construction managers and other (Associated Cement Companies Limited) 12
professionals like chemical and electrical cement plants in India. Two years after ACC
engineers and scientists, draughtsmen and took over a controlling stake by buying out
laboratory technicians. We suggested the previous Belgian owners, it had chalked
educating their members. They explained out a major expansion plan to drive up
that barriers to this included high illiteracy volumes in the non-asbestos segment of the
rates and twenty different languages spoken industry. The company was in the process of
in the country. setting up a flexi line for producing roofing
sheets at its manufacturing facility in
Gopal Krishna Toxics Link, New Delhi Podanpur near Coimbatore to produce the
Returning to New Delhi, we again met with flexi line — which would have enabled
Gopal Krishna, of Toxics Link at their main production of both asbestos and non-
asbestos to PVC roofing sheets. It later
stopped production on PVC roofing sheets employers follow the legal asbestos
and started to produce asbestos roofing standards.
sheets, presumably because the asbestos
sheets are cheaper. One of the major Dr. Barry Castleman asked if they had
shareholders in ACC Ltd. is Tata Industries, considered asking employers to substitute
on of India’s biggest conglomerates. asbestos with other safer products like PVC.
They are having discussions with cement
companies on alternatives, but they look at
durability and cost. They are doing some
research and they want to do educational
seminars on the hazards of asbestos for
We offered, if they need any assistance with
information on asbestos or other safety
issues, our CAW Health and Safety
Meeting trade union BMS Executive
department would be pleased to provide it.
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh
We met with the BMS national trade union
Ramesh Inder Singh. Joint Secretary
executives, Mr. R.K. Bhakt, President and
Government of India, Ministry of Chemical
Mr.K. Lakshma Reddy, National Secretary.
The BMS is the largest trade union
Dr. T.K. Joshi arranged that we meet with
confederation in India, established in 1955.
the Government of India, Ministry of
Their state units and affiliated industrial
Chemical & Fertilizers Joint Secretary
federations represent textile, jute, steel,
Ramesh Inder Singh. We spoke on our
transport (docks & ports), postal, tele-
position and the importance of the ban of
communications, sugar, pulp & paper, cement ,
asbestos in Canada and also by putting
electricity, and railway workers. With
chrysotile (white asbestos) on the Prior
8,200,000 members, the BMS union, unlike
Informed Consent (PIC) list of the
other trade unions in India, it is not aligned
Rotterdam Treaty. On September 18, 2004
to any of the political parties.
the decision on whether to include chrysotile
on the PIC list was to take place in Geneva
We asked where asbestos is used in their
during the Rotterdam Convention discussions.
workplaces. They said that it was mostly
Unfortunately, to Canada’s shame, our
used in the construction industry, mainly in
government successfully lobbied that
cement for the building trades and the
chrysotile would not be included on the list.
industry of roofing application. They said
We gave Mr. Ramesh Inder Singh the history
workers mix the asbestos into the cement
of asbestos in Canada, examples of the
openly and when working with roofing
workplaces affected (such as Holmes
materials with asbestos in it, they saw and
Foundry and the bystander cases) and the
cut the materials with no protection.
CAW perspective on banning asbestos mining
Workers are scared to complain, as a fear
and export. He mention that he would be
of losing their jobs. Some employers give
attending the Geneva Rotterdam Convention
workers respiratory protection and others
discussion and made the comment that
don’t. They estimate only 40-45% of
employers follow the legal asbestos 15
Canada should stop sending asbestos to India asbestos products and their use. We offered
and that they then would stop using it. We information on alternative and substitute
left his office feeling that he wasn’t products to use in cement, roofing and pipe
prepared to lend much support on banning manufacture. He also mentioned that most of
the export of our asbestos into India. the workplaces using asbestos are
unorganized labour and that workers didn’t
Maulana Azad Medical College New Dehi know anything about the hazards or health
Maulana Azad Medical College and associated risk associated to the work. We asked how
hospital complex consist of four integral often his office did workplace inspections of
units, namely Maulana Azad medical college, these industries. He responded by saying, not
Lok Nayak Hospital, Govind Ballabh Pant often enough as they had limited resources
Hospital and Guru Nanak Eye Centre. The to do the ongoing inspections and that was
college was established 22 years ago and the one of his major concerns functioning in his
hospital complex draws patients mainly from capacity. Nonetheless, we left his office,
Delhi and from neighbouring states of feeling optimistic that his department would
Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal do more to pursue the ban and use of
Pradesh, and Rajasthan. We met with asbestos in India.
Professor Sunila Garg who had made the
presentation on epidemiological aspects on BJP Minister of Health Dr. Harshan Ravan
asbestos exposure and health hazards at the Goel.
International Conference on “Asbestos Dr. T.K. Joshi took us along to meet with
Exposure in India”. We along with Dr. T. K. opposition party leader who had been the
Joshi drafted a letter together as rebuttal Minister of Health, Dr. Harshan Ravan Goel.
to a news article written by Jacques The BJP had just recently lost the election
Dunnigan. Professor Garg was to have sent it to the Indian National Congress Party which
to The Times of India newspaper in response is the oldest political party of India,
to the assertions made by Dr. Dunnigan on originally was under the leadership of
how safe chrysotile asbestos is for India. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Dr.
Joshi thinks that Dr. Harshan Ravan Goel will
Government of India, Ministry of Labour be India’s prime minister someday. Dr. H. R.
We met with the Government of India, Goel listen to our position on asbestos and
Ministry of Labour Shri K. Chandramouli, why we came to India to promote awareness
Joint Secretary. We spoke about our on the ban of chrysotile, and stop the mining
position and the importance of the ban of and export from Canada. He indicated that
asbestos in Canada and also about the need the BJP would likely be more forceful in
to put chrysotile (white asbestos) on the enforcing safety legislation be disposed
Prior Informed Consent (PIC) list of the towards the total ban of asbestos of any
Rotterdam Treaty. Mr. Chandramouli seemed kind to be used in products in India.
genuinely interested on what we had to say.
He indicated to Dr. Joshi that his office Ramjas College New Delhi
would be willing to do something, but he Dr. Joshi had us meet with a group of
needed assistance in developing an action students at Ramjas College in New Delhi.
plan on approaching the industry on not using The students were all taking an under-
asbestos and work together on a total ban on graduate course in Environment Management
and Law. failed to back up.
A car fed by dog food: has a habit of
We presented our position on asbestos in chasing after other automobiles.
India and why we were here supporting the
ban including the need to cease of the export A plane that runs on marshmallows
of chrysotile asbestos from Canada. We guarantees a soft landing.
talked about the environmental hazards and
diseased victims from workplaces and Beloved jalopy runs on nostalgia: It goes
communities throughout Canada. We also backward only, and to places that aren’t as
gave a brief history of the CAW and our good as you remember.
struggles and accomplishments with health Batteries made up of Enron executives:
and safety language in our collective They get charged all of the time.
agreements and the rights for workers with
health and safety legislation and regulations A car that runs on softwood lumber chips:
achieved as a result workplace disasters. You can get to the U.S. border but you can’t
get across. Vehicles that run on conversation.
We hope India takes the issues of asbestos Why? Easy. Talk is cheap. The hot air
seriously and learns from the past m istakes dirigible: Problem is it can’t leave its fuel
of other countries like Canada where we are source – the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
still dealing with the incredible number of
deceased workers, their families and the A car that runs on optimism: Start ‘er up and
people who are suffering from the adverse hope for the best.An engine that runs on rum
health effects from their exposure to – but rum running is illegal.
asbestos. Please support the ban to stop the
use and mining and export of this deadly
substance asbestos. Leave it under ground !!! CONFERENCES/EVENTS
CLC Healthy Workplace, Healthy Environment
conference, January 28-30, Ottawa
A GOOD LAUGH
(email@example.com for registration
Globe and Mail information).
The “Challenge” section of the December 4,
2004 issue of the Globe and Mail challenged International RSI Awareness Day, February 28.
readers to suggest alternative sources of
fuel and list their advantages or Occupational Diseases Conference, March 3-4,
CCOHS, Toronto, $350. (see www.ccohs.ca for
disadvantages. Here are some of the
humorous entries contributed by readers:
Workplace Health and Safety in the Global
Car that runs on dried beef. Not bad, but Economy, April 28-29, Eugene, Oregon, $150
it’s jerky. U.S. (see
Solar energy: very economical, but you’re
econconf.htm for registration information).
forced to deal with a monopoly.
An automobile fuelled by a computer. Be H:\Newsletter\hse010205.doc\cw:jmcope343
prepared for a crash; devastating if you’ve