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                          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:

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
                       Pg. 9
                                                    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
                                                      INTERNATIONAL LABOUR
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”.
rgonomicsintheWorkEnvironment.pdf )
                                                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.

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
                                                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


               “Trade unions can play an
                important role in enforcing
                health      and      safety
                standards.        Individual
                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
the record.
“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
      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,
      he said.”
                                                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 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,
                                                  he said.

                                                  “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 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.
                                                         ASBESTOS ON-LINE
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
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    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.

Asbestos Exposure
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
construction industry.

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
respirable fibres.

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
                                                 their workers.

                                                 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.
                                                 & Fertilizers
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
                                                ( 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 for
disadvantages.     Here are some of the
                                                registration information).
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