Occupational Safety and Health
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Over 300 workers burned and suffocated to death - and a call for justice

 

The horror of it all is almost unimaginable.
 
Over 300 workers burned and suffocated to death in their workplaces, a garment factory and a shoe factory.  
 
Some died while trying to jump out of windows to safety.  
 
There were no emergency exits, no escape routes.
 
Not in Victorian England in the 19th century.  Not in New York City a century ago.
 
But this week, in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
 
They died in Karachi and in Lahore, making the garments and shoes that you may be wearing right now.
 
We honour the memory of those lives cut short by demanding justice -- 
 
  • an impartial inquiry into what happened - and punishing those at fault;
  • compensation for the families of those killed and injured;
  • and an investigation into the failures of those public authorities who should have been there to ensure the workers' safety.
 
The unions in Pakistan are asking us all to take a minute and send off our messages of protest to the Prime Minister.
 
Pakistan: Make textile factories safe

 

Go to the LabourStart Campaign page and sign the petition http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1570&src=lsmm

 

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Adult and underage workers risk their lives in Bangladesh's rising ship-breaking industry

Adult and underage workers risk their lives in Bangladesh's rising ship-breaking industry | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
In late November, a 52,000-ton barge eased into this ramshackle port on the Bay of Bengal and came to rest on a wide, muddy beach. After nearly four decades crisscrossing the oceans for an American offshore engineering company, the DB-101 did not come to erect another oil rig or lay miles of undersea...
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David Wise's curator insight, March 14, 8:21 PM
Standards- I would love to travel and work in countries where Safety standards are minimal or non existent. It would be a challenge to engage the employers to make a change to their standards and their attitudes towards their employees Safety and well being. 
Tchernaya Stevenson's curator insight, March 16, 11:49 PM

Upon reading and reviewing the title of this Scoop.It article and also the image, my heart breaks for those people, young and old, who have to work in such dangerous and poor conditions. Underage workers are put in life-threatening situations just to earn some sort of money. In five years time, I hope that I can help people who have to work under dangerous working conditons and ensure that appropriate procedures and protocols are implemented.

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Why would Foxconn buy Sharp? It’s all about the iPhone

Why would Foxconn buy Sharp? It’s all about the iPhone | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Updated at 5:45 ET. Japanese electronics maker Sharp has accepted a bid from Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group for it to buy a majority stake in company for ¥489 billion ($4.4 billion), the Japanese firm announced today (Feb. 25). Shortly thereafter, however, Foxconn put the deal on hold "after receiving new material information from Sharp," it said in a statement....
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

Foxconn wants to takeover Sharp. A look back at how Foxconn treats its workers:


in China via SACOM: http://sacom.hk/open-letter-not-only-not-perfect-aware-of-wrongs-yet-unwilling-to-change-an-open-letter-from-the-ilabour-action-group-to-foxconn-technology-group/


http://sacom.hk/statement-low-wages-long-hours-fake-union-decent-working-conditions-to-foxconn-workers-immediately/


in Indiahttp://amrc.org.hk/content/foxconn-workers-speak-we-are-treated-worse-machines


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Pesticide Combination Impacts Often Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts, New Study Says

Pesticide Combination Impacts Often Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts, New Study Says | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Exposure to multiple fumigant pesticides commonly used together in California may increase cancer risk, says new report.
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Police Investigates Gas Company in Mandom Fire Incident

Police Investigates Gas Company in Mandom Fire Incident | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
The Police questioned six witnesses, some of which are
employees of a gas installation company.
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Fire at Bangladesh plastics factory kills at least 13

A fire swept through a plastic packaging factory on Saturday night in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, killing at least 13 people, a fire department official said. A fire at a garment factory killed 112 workers in 2012, and in 2013 more than 1,100 people died in the collapse of a building housing five garment factories.

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First probe of China factory blast finds firm responsible

First probe of China factory blast finds firm responsible | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
The preliminary findings of a probe into an explosion at an auto parts factory that killed 75 people on Saturday show that the company bears the main responsibility for the incident.
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Seven miners killed in landslide in Indonesia

Seven miners were killed and five were unaccounted for following a landslide that occurred at a traditional gold mining site in Baya Biru, Paniai regency, Papua, on Tuesday at around 11 p.m. local time. Two other miners survived the incident.

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Jason Grybaitis's curator insight, July 11, 2014 2:56 AM

Tragic accident in India on the 1st of July. Several miners have been killed due to a landslide. I don't believe this is the first occurrence of a landslide in India. Moving an entire goldmine seems quite impossible, something must be done to prevent these horrific events.

Daisy's curator insight, March 25, 5:32 AM

Firstly wouldn't you think that this could have been foreseen or at least considered as a possibility! I find these really infuriating as this could have been prevented. Human error, always human error. Check a weather radar before you go camping on a muddy hill! I want to be able to foreseen situations/scenarios that may not be considered as a possibility for others. Camping for a few nights or not but a lot can happen in that small window of time. 


 


Daisy Sawyer

Hannah Lynch's curator insight, July 23, 11:47 PM

Mining is an industry where OHS is a major concern. As seen with Black Lung Disease is an example of the impacts of this industry on workers in Australia.

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Catalysts for Change - Asia Health

ANROEV and AMRC is the focus in the Solidarity Center Book Series " Catalyst for Change - Asia Health'

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India Says NO to Asbestos

December 2, 2013.

Over 300 scientists and health defenders from 36 countries condemn dangerous misinformation being disseminated in India by asbestos industry organisations

In a letter released today, over 200 scientists and over 100 labour and health organizations from 36 countries strongly condemned efforts by asbestos industry organisations to promote use of chrysotile asbestos in India. The letter, sent to Health Minister Sh Gulam Nabi Azad, Labour Minister Sh Sis Ram Ola and Environment Minister Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, noted that the asbestos industry is on a mission to enhance its profits and urged the National Government of India to put the health of the Indian population ahead of the vested interests of the asbestos industry.

“The International Chrysotile Association and the Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers’ Association of India (ACPMA) are disseminating deadly, deceptive misinformation about chrysotile asbestos, that will cause suffering and loss of life for years to come,” said Dr. Joseph LaDou, Emeritus Chair, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, USA.

“These organisations claim that scientific research shows that chrysotile asbestos can be safely used,” said Professor Luiz Augusto Facchini, Department of Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil. “This claim is utterly false. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Health Organization, as well as numerous other scientific organisations, have all called for an end to the use of chrysotile asbestos in order to prevent further tragic epidemics of asbestos-related diseases.”

“While a handful of scientists financed by and allied to the asbestos industry, deny the health risks of chrysotile asbestos and promote its continued used, not a single reputable scientific body in the world supports this position,” said Dr. Fernand Turcotte, Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Laval University, Québec, Canada.

In the face of the public health disaster caused by asbestos, 54 countries have banned any use of asbestos. The asbestos industry, in order to ensure its continued profits, is aggressively targeting Asian countries for sales. Just six Asian countries – China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka – now represent 70% of world asbestos consumption.

India imports more asbestos than any other country in the world, with imports having risen from 253,382 tons in 2006 to 473,240 tons in 2012, an increase of 186%. “These vast amounts of asbestos, being placed in homes and schools across India, are a deadly time bomb that will go on causing suffering and deaths for decades to come,” said Dr V. Murlidhar, Pneumoconiosis compensation board, TN Trust, UK and Trauma surgeon, Mumbai, India.

As a result of increased use of asbestos in Asia, asbestos experts, Dr. G.V. Le and Dr. K. Takahashi have warned: “A surge of Asbestos Related Disorders (ARD) in Asia should be anticipated in the coming decades. Asian countries should not only cease asbestos use but also prepare themselves for an impending epidemic of ARD.”

One of the ‘eminent’ speakers at the forthcoming industry conference, Dr David Bernstein was found by a New York court early this year to have committed potential crime-fraud by billing per hour to publish papers in the scientific literature that were financed and controlled by an asbestos products company.[1]

The independence of a 2012 study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health titled ‘Health hazards/ environmental hazards resulting from use of Chrysotile variety of asbestos in the country’ commissioned by the Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals was tarnished by the participation of the asbestos industry behind the scenes.

Commenting on the study, Dr Arthur Frank, Professor of Public Health, Drexel University, USA stated: “There are so many things wrong with this study it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps the single most damning statement in the whole document is to be found on page 106 - All workers were using personal protective equipment device such as a piece of cloth as mask. Who could possibly believe that a piece of cloth acts as a piece of protective equipment for microscopic Asbestos dust?”

“It shows cynical indifference on the part of the asbestos industry that they are holding their event to promote a toxic product on the anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy,” said Pralhad Malvadkar, Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Mumbai.  “The millions of tons of asbestos that are being placed in homes and schools in India will create thousands of innocent victims, while this irresponsible industry reaps the profits. A slow motion Bhopal is being created. It may be reliably predicted that the toll of death and disease from asbestos in India will be at least 10 to 100 times as great as that from the disaster in Bhopal.  The corporate mentality that is the cause is the same in both cases”.

We call on the three government ministers to reject the discredited propaganda of a tainted, irresponsible industry and instead show leadership that respects reputable science and protection of health.

We call on the national government to adopt an enlightened policy and to support the WHO’s recommendation to end all use of asbestos in India.

CONTACT:

Mohit Gupta, OEHNI: oehni.del@gmail.com

Krishnendu Mukherjee, Barrister: tublumukherjee@yahoo.co.uk

Madhumita Dutta, OEHNI: madhudutta.new@gmail.com

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Jamis Brooks's curator insight, March 8, 2014 6:59 AM

To think that Asbestos is still being used in this day and age after all the law suits and the health risks it has presented. It is essential for the UN to step in and stop this injustice. 

OHS OHS's curator insight, July 18, 2014 9:55 AM

It is hard to understand that there would even be any reason in todays world to continue to use asbestos. 

 

It goes to show that there is still a long way to come in OHS in a lot of poorer nations around the world.

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Samsung Contract Worker Dies After Working An Average of 60 Hours A week

Samsung Contract Worker Dies After Working An Average of 60 Hours A week | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
A young contractor of Samsung Electronics’ customer service arm died of what appears to be overwork, after putting in an average 60 hours a week in the past four months since May.Deadly Peak Season...
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Callum Dunlop's curator insight, March 28, 2015 7:46 PM

I think we have all had a time where we have felt overwork and under achieved, but this takes it to the next level.  But even if we look at this on a lower scale of the spectrum, especially in Australia how many times do see co-workers burn out because they are over worked? This directly relates to OHS and because it is about protecting your employees. We need to monitor our staff in the same sort of manner we would if they were using a dangerous piece of machinery. It relates to workplace safety being everyone’s responsibility – from management to the person standing next to you.

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Ja-Ela Prone To Cancer Due To Illegal Asbestos Plant

In true Board of Investment (BOI) style, an asbestos sheet manufacturing company in Ekala, Ja-Ela has been allowed to bypass the pre-conditions laid down by the BOI in the investment approval and to commence its production without any restriction. Rhino Products Limited of No. 111, Maithri Mawatha, Ekala, Ja Ela, a subsidiary of Rhino Roofing Products of No. 30, Minuwangoda Road, Ekala, Ja Ela entered into an agreement with the BOI on May 29, 2008 to manufacture asbestos roofing sheets for the local market. As per the investment approval, all statutory requirements/ regulations stipulated under relevant legal enactments including the Factories Ordinance, and the National Environmental Act should be adhered to when improvements are made to the selected site and also during the operational period of the project. The investment approval further states that the site approval is valid only for the specific project referred to and all conditions stipulated in the BOI approval letter under reference should be complied with. It further states that an Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) should be obtained from the BOI prior to commencement of operations at the site. A completed application form should be submitted to the Director Environment Management of the BOI one month prior to commencement of trial operations.
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Another Fatal Accident Hits A Samsung Plant

Another Fatal Accident Hits A Samsung Plant | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Three workers were killed and 12 injured on the late afternoon of July 26 when a huge water tank burst during a stress test at the Samsung Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd. plant in Ulsan, South Korea.
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Seven workers trapped in coal mine accident in China

Seven people remain trapped while 266 others escaped after a coal mine accident in southwest China's Sichuan Province today, local officials said.
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Christopher Scorey's curator insight, March 19, 2:31 AM

The study of Occupational Health and Safety is beneficial as it allows one to prevent accidents and injury. For example, in this Chinese Coal Mine incident, having the knowledge to reflect and impliment action to prevent this accident reoccurring would truly benefit this Chinese company. The only path to accessing this knowledge is through studying OHS.

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Victory - Hindustan Unilever settles with 591 Kodaikanal workers - KodaiMercury

PRESS RELEASE: Activists Celebrate as Unilever Settles with Kodaikanal Workers 9 March, 2016 — The settlement between Hindustan Unilever and 591 former mercury workers from its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal is an unprecedented victory and a fitting culmination of the 15-year campaign by workers and the hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide, said campaign organisations …
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Pakistan province passes landmark law protecting women against violence

Pakistan province passes landmark law protecting women against violence | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Lawmakers in Pakistan's largest province on Wednesday gave unprecedented protection to female victims of violence, in a bid to stem a rising tide of gender-related abuse in a country ranked as the world's third most dangerous place for women.
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OSH Consultation for Ship Building Workers - India | Asia Monitor Resource Centre

OSH  Consultation  for Ship Building Workers - India | Asia Monitor Resource Centre | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it

An OSH consultation took place in Kolkata, India on January 9 to 10, 2016 hosted by Workers Initiative with trade union leaders and activists from 4 shipbuilding yards across the country namely Kolkata, Mumbai, Goa and Ranchi. 

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Hannah Lynch's curator insight, July 23, 11:38 PM

It will be interesting to see how OHS progresses in lesser developed countries in the future.

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Freeport slammed for high occupational accident rate

"I filed a complaint with Freeport, an international company, as 30 employees have died in occupation accidents. It is not a matter of sophisticated technology but a technical issue, such as when a light vehicle hit a heavy equipment vehicle because of reckless driving"

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Hannah Lynch's curator insight, July 23, 11:40 PM

This will be a challenge for all countries and companies in the future. What price do we pay for safety.

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Fukuoka court holds gov't liable for asbestos exposure

Fukuoka court holds gov't liable for asbestos exposure | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
A southwestern Japan court on Friday ruled that the government was responsible for failing to prevent construction workers from being exposed to asbestos and causing them to develop lung diseases.
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OSH Legal Resources Handbook

The Legal Resources Handbook is intended to serve as a practical reference handbook for those legal practitioners and activists involved in the struggle to seek compensation and justice for victims of occupational injuries and diseases. It aims to be a hands-on manual and provide an overview of the working of the law and its implementation. It is supplemented with case studies that give the reader an insight into the working of the laws in the region. It will also serve as a tool to aid cross-border alliances and build strong solidarity among victims’ support groups across the region.

This practical handbook has country reports from 10 countries: From South Asia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India; from East Asia: China, Japan, and Hong Kong; and from Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Each chapter focuses on a single country and reports on actual cases/ incidents in terms of the existing structures and mechanisms, showing the core of the system and how it works and elucidating the requirements and challenges facing  a worker or victim seeking compensation. Many of these cases clearly demonstrate the issues and obstacles encountered by the worker, and some strategies and interventions used by legal practitioners to assist the victims.

AMRC will update the information in this handbook periodically with the aim of providing a more powerful tool to the network and to other workers and victims in the Asia region.

To download the whole publication

Download individual chapters:

Front pageForewordIntroductionBangladeshCambodiaChinaHong KongIndiaIndonesiaJapanPakistanPhilippinesThailandNotes on Contributors
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John Botham Safety Specialist's curator insight, July 15, 2015 1:05 PM

As someone who is always looking to update my knowledge, this handbook is a great idea. Providing an overview and demonstrating case studies from different nations will provide a comprehensive knowledge base about the more complex issues surrounding OHS. It will also function as a tool for all OHS professionals to draw upon in different circumstances to further their knowledge. This resource can also be useful to professionals outside of the OHS field, for example by legal practitioners to increase their awareness around OHS issues.

Hannah Lynch's curator insight, July 23, 11:44 PM

The Legal Resources Handbook is an excellent example of how we can move forward with OHS. This is an area of real interest to me. I have travelled to Japan as a high school student and would definitely like to return to work in the future. 

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In China, 1,600 People Die Every Day From Working Too Hard

In China, 1,600 People Die Every Day From Working Too Hard | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
White-collar workers are dying from overwork
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OHS OHS's curator insight, July 18, 2014 6:32 AM

When thinking about occupational deaths and injuries many only think about the terrible accidents where people break bones, electrocuted, crushed, cut and burnt etc. Most of the time conditions like RSI, depression, fatigue and the like receive little attention.

Riccilee Alana Miller-Cutrale's curator insight, March 17, 2015 8:48 PM

 

China is not a third world country however, this article talks about how people in China are dying from working too hard.

 

We often hear of people who work in developing countries (where workers are forced to work long hours in stressful environments) dying younger. How do we teach people who do not get paid well, that by working those very long hours to earn money for their family, they could potentially be killing themselves? If we do tell them, would it make any difference? 

 

I wish to work at a place that does not accept employees working extremely long hours. Businesses that try to break the endless cycle of working too hard and dying prematurely because of stress..

In the future I'd like to work for companies that instil the importance of a happy, productive life outside of work, in low paying countries.

Sarvena Arrasappan's curator insight, March 24, 2015 6:10 AM

I find this article utterly devastating! Workers in China are exploited to the point where it could lead them to sudden deaths. This may not affect the safety aspect of their job, however, their health is on a major risk. The survey by Yang Heqing clearly states that 60% of the workers are taking up more overtime hours than the legal limit. 

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Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics

This short documentary reveals the hazards of the electronics industry in China profiling workers poisoned by chemicals and their struggle for compensation. 

Thousands of young people in China enter export factories to make the West's favorite electronic gadgets, only to find they have contracted occupational diseases or worse, leukemia, by the age of 25.

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Jamis Brooks's curator insight, March 14, 2014 7:40 AM

I look differently now at what technology I purchase and I will do better homework to ensure that employee safety is paramount. I won't be buying a Samsung phone again!

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Seoul Court Rules In Favor Of A Samsung Leukemia Victim

Seoul Court Rules In Favor Of A Samsung Leukemia Victim | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
The Seoul administrative court ordered KCOMWEL, the quasi-government entity responsible for workers compensation, on October 18 to withdraw its earlier decision and to pay industrial-accident payouts to the bereaved family of a former Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd employee who died in 2009 of leukemia. --- Posthumous Victory The ruling is a posthumous victory for Kim Kyung-mi, who had waged a long fight until her death four years ago. Kim began work as a wafer etcher at the Giheung plant of Samsung in 1999, after graduating high school. Until 2004 when she got married, Kim has worked at the same plant where Hwang Yu-mi, the first publicly known victim of Samsung’s blood disorder cluster, developed leukemia. ---Marriage, Miscarriage, And Acute Leukemia In 2005, she had a miscarriage—probably the first sign of physical anomalies because there was no family history of miscarriage. After a regimen of fertility medications and treatment, in 2007, Kim gave birth to a child. However, in 2008, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after she suffered bruise-like rashes on her body. The following year, she died, aged 29, after failed marrow transplants.
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10 killed in Bangladesh garment factory fire

At least 10 garment workers including some of the factory’s officials were killed and many injured by a devastating fire at a garment factory in Sreepur upazila, Gazipur on the outskirts of Dhaka, on Tuesday.

The fire originated in the dyeing section of Aswad Composite Mills owned by the Palmal Group.

The cause of the blaze is yet to be ascertained. However, eyewitnesses said, the flame spread to a nearby chemical store on the first floor and in no time engulfed the two floors.

Firemen recovered seven bodies from the ground floor and two from the second floor of the two-storey factory. Police said most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition.

At least 170 workers were on duty on the two floors when the fire broke out.

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A Father's Protest against Samsung

A Father's Protest against Samsung | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/viewfinder/asia/2013/07/201371211640256607.html

 

One man turns his grief for his daughter's death into a protest against a corporation, linking the tragedy to her work.

 

Mr Hwang, a South Korean taxi driver, has been protesting against the government and a giant multinational corporation for more than five years, to find out why his daughter died of a rare form of leukaemia at the age of 23.

There was no family history of the disease and Mr Hwang believes that his daughter died because she was exposed to deadly toxic chemicals at the semiconductor factory where she worked for nearly 2 years.

The film follows a very emotional journey of a grieving father, who is dealing with the loss of his daughter, and is determined to find out why his daughter died.

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Two Indonesian workers crushed to death at JB site

Two Indonesian workers crushed to death at JB site | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Two Indonesian workers were crushed to death when a slab of wet cement floor collapsed on them at a supermarket construction site at Taman Gaya, Ulu Tiram here. Known only as Asmawi, 27, and Aripen, 24, they were working on a cracked cemented floor at about 3.30pm on Saturday when tragedy struck. Johor Baru South OCPD Asst Comm Zainuddin Yaacob said the site supervisor had instructed the two workers to repair a cracked beam on the first floor of the building. “While repairing the crack, the wet concrete ceiling above the beam collapsed on top of them,” he said, adding that they died at the scene of the incident.
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OHS OHS's curator insight, July 18, 2014 10:00 AM

Many unfortunate deaths while at work are completely avoidable. While many deaths and injuries come down to profit driven company leaders a lot are simply because of lack of knowledge or carelessness.

 

In poorer countries in particular many work related injuries and deaths could have easily been avoided had the workers have had briefings, induction and basic safety training.

 

Continual maintenance and the supply of correct equipment especially PPE would go a long way to reducing the injury and death tolls in many countries around the world.