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Invisible Victims of Development

 

Foreword  Just as this report was being printed, in the space of three months two devastating fires engulfed garment factories in Karachi and Dhaka, killing more than 500 workers, tragedies that rank not only as the worst industrial disasters to occur in Pakistan and Bangladesh but in the whole of Asia. The Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) -a network linking more than 14 Asian countries, was founded following two identical devastating fires almost two decades ago – in Kader in Thailand and in Zhili in China, which killed more than 260 workers. The network started as accident victims’ network, reflecting the real situation in Asia when accidents were a daily occurrence and occupationaldiseases, even though present in large numbers, did not take priority because of their invisibility. Over the years the network has taken a more comprehensive approach and more occupational disease victims have become part of it, something reflected in its new name as stated above. Just when we thought we had buried the ghosts of the past, the Karachi and Dhaka fires have brought the nightmare back, and this time it is even more painful. History keeps repeating itself in very gruesome ways. We cannot control fires, as accidents happen. However, these fires should not have killed so many workers; fire safety is the minimal basic requirement that workers deserve from their employers. The need to provide a safe fire escape route has been well known since the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York more than a century ago in 1911. Any deaths occurring in an operation that does not provide such a passage or makes existing facilities impassable henceforth should be seen as ‘murder’ and not an accident. The perpetrators, including the manufacturers, the brands, regulators (governments) aswell as the self-regulatory monitors and auditors who certify a premise as ‘safe’ need to be held criminally responsible. This report is dedicated to all those victims who have lost their lives to fire in Karachi, Dhaka and many other places, to victims who have died due to cancer from working in electronics factories from Korea to Indonesia, to victims who died due to their lungs being clogged with silica and to those who died of cancers contracteddue to deadly asbestos. This book also salutes the survivors and their families, who struggle every day for justice and a hope that no one else faces the same fate, that workplaces become clean, and that history does not repeat itself again. Introduction By Omana George and Sanjiv Pandita Background
Occupational safety and health is one of the most serious issues impacting the working population of developing Asian countries. The ‘shining’ and ‘growing’ Asia has a darker side, glimpses of which often appears in the media in reports of exploitative conditions in ‘sweatshops’ or the hazardous working conditions in workplaces, ranging from mines in China to ship breaking in Bangladesh and gem polishing in India. However, these storie often come and go as ‘news flashes’ and rarely offer deeper insights into the enormity or the magnitude of the problem. The key question remains how serious is the problem and how to quantify what is a ‘bad situation’, especially when developing Asian countries maintain little if any credible data on deaths, injuries and sickness due to work. Some idea of the gravity of the situation comes from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) - a specialized wing of the United Nations, which puts the death toll in Asia at an alarming 1.1 million annually. However, the ILO figure is a projected one, derived from a mathematical model using the existing data from industrialized countries in absence of data from the workplace in Asia. Manycritics believe this is just a conservative estimate as the projection does not take into account the real working conditions on the ground. There is no denying the fact that Asia is facing an epidemic of work-related deaths and diseases, and exposure to work hazards is one of the leading causes of preventable death, injury and sickness. Yet, the sick, injured and the dead workers and their families remain invisible, hidden behind a thick veil of secrecy and denial, and thus they are denied of justice and rehabilitation and form the most marginalized section of the society. Genesis of the Report
This report is an attempt by the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) to portray the real situation of OSH on the ground and what workers, victims and their families have to go through in six Asian countries, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Philippines and Thailand. The report has been prepared in collaboration with the Asian Network for the Rights of Occupational and Environmental Victims (ANROEV) – a network of victims groups, trade unions, labour and environmental organizations based in 16 Asian countries all working towards creating safe and healthy workplaces, OSH rights and environmental justice. The need for the present report emerged during the ANROEV annual meeting in 2008, when grassroots groups, frustrated by years of apathy by the government and the functioning of businesses with impunity, decided to produce their own report to show the extent of the problem at ground level with a hope this might help draw some public attention to a very serious problem. However, it has not been easy as the country reports have been prepared predominantly by practitioners and activists who are engaged in an ‘epic’ struggle. The six member countries of ANROEV who contributed to this report, presented their initial findingsin November 2011 during the annual meeting of the ANROEV network in Jaipur, India,where they also sought further input from members from other countries. Enriched with case studies, the reports also offer a glimpse into the lives and struggles of the workers, victims and their families and show the real people present and missing, behind the numbers. Though the report is based on the situation of six Asian countries, covering more than half of Asia’s population, yet it is reflective, to a large extent, of the general situation in the whole of Asia. Key Findings Cost of DevelopmentThe ‘Right to life’ is the most precious, fundamental human right enshrined under various UN conventions and in the constitutions of the countries in the region, and yet it is being denied constantly. Over the past few decades countries in Asia have embraced the model of export- led development which focuses on growth at all costs. As explained by Voravidh Charoenloet and Somboon Srikomdokcare in their report on Thailand, the model is based on attracting investment by lowering labour standards, in particular allowing low wages, long working hours and flexible labour relations. The whole process is dehumanising as workers are rendered mere ‘objects’ in the process. Where as the economic data is projected quarterly to lure more investment, the workers impacted are simply forgotten, their cases of exploitation, injury and even death are swept under the carpet. Underreporting and lack of dataThe lack of clear and credible data is reflected in all six country reports. For example in the Philippines, as explained by Noel Colina in his report, the figures on OSH are available arbitrarily once every four years, and there is no data available for the ‘in between’ missing years; the latest available data is for the year 2007 and it was only released in 2010. “We can compare, for example, data for the years 2003 and 2007, but we need to guess what happened to workers in the intervening years” observes Noel. The problem does not stop here, since even the available data is in parts and is inconsistent. As evidenced in the report on India by Jagdish Patel and Mohit Gupta, apart from the discrepancies in the collected data by various agencies, the figures are too low to capture the reality on the ground. For example the fatal accident figure available for India, under various agencies ranges from 400 to 1,000. In a country of 1 billion, this is hardly credible, especially when the ILO’s projection of 40,000 is considered. In Indonesia, as observed by Muchamad Darisman in his report, the figures are grossly underreported. Even though one government official statement acknowledged nine workers die everyday due to accidents, yet the datareflects the situation only in the ‘registered’ units and the majority of the workplaces are notregistered. Even those registered do not report. In the case of China, the situation is no different, but the scale is much bigger due to its distinction of being the ‘world’s factory’ as reported by Becky Fung and Francine Chan in their report. China accounts for nearly half of Asia’s work-related fatalities and it is not only because of its large workforce but also due to a very high accident rate that, according to the ILO, is nearly 3 times that of the United States. The report observes that official data only reflect ‘the tip of the iceberg’ as data of many workers, especially the migrant workers, is not recorded. In Cambodia, where the reporting mechanism is relatively new compared to the other countries, the official data is neither comprehensive neither reflective of the situation in the country, as observed by Bronh Sopheana and Choeung Theany in their report. Only data from accidents in the formal registered units in and around Phnom Penh is reflected in official reports. The OSH situation in the rest of the country remains a big unknown. Legal coverage and lack of implementation of lawsThe reports provide a good overview of legal coverage in the six countries and it is evident all countries have framed some form of laws. These can be classified into two main categories- the first type intends to prevent exposure to hazard or harm and protect workers, that includes various regulations and codes for businesses; the second type offer assistance, relief, and treatment for workers who may get injured or sick at the workplace – this includes laws oncompensation and also social security. However, as will be seen one of the major problems reported in all of them is the coverage is often quite limited. Most of the laws do not cover all the workers. In fact in most of the cases, the majority of workers remain uncovered as the protection is often restricted to the formal registered units, and since majority of workers in these countries work in the informal sector,they remain excluded from the framework of laws. The second major issue remains the implementation of the laws and there are often many government bodies, ministries and agencies involved in the implementation. As reflected in the reports from China and India, it always creates overlapping roles and responsibilities and often confusion. There is also a problem of insufficient and proper resources and personal from the implementing institutions. For example, what is emerging universally is the number of inspectors is far too few to handle the number of factories they have to inspect. It is not humanly possible for them to inspect all the factories, so enforcement remains weakas most of the factories cannot be inspected. There is also the issue of the capacity of the inspectors due to a lack of adequate training as expressed in the Cambodia report. Instead of strengthening the inspections and increasing the number of inspectors some of the countries are trying to dismantle this institution by drying up the funds previously budgeted and further reducing the number of inspectors. This is evident from the reports from the Philippines and India. In both these countries government is promoting ‘self-regulation’ and in Philippines companies who have self regulatory standards are even exempt from the inspections.  Trade unions in other parts of the world play a major role in the implementation of the laws and ensuring safety at the workplace. However, the level of unionization in all the countries surveyed is very low and ranges between four and eight percent, In China, there is an additional problem to do with the legitimacy of the single union, the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), as it is not seen as representative of the workers. Occupational diseases and issues of diagnosisIt is evident from all the reports, that while accidents which are ‘visible’ and obvious remain grossly underreported and neglected, the situation as regards occupational diseases is even worse. The ILO maintains that accidents represent less than a quarter of the total work-related fatalities and occupational diseases account for most of them. Yet it is hardly indicative from the data from these six countries. In fact, the data on occupational diseases in most of the countries is non-existent. For example, in India the Indian Labour Year Book 2005 mentions only 7 cases of occupational disease for that year. In Indonesia and Cambodia there is no data available on occupational diseases at all. This is representative of a fatal flaw in strategies of addressing this issue. Occupational diseases impact millions of workers in Asia: However, unlike accidents an occupational disease or illness develops over a period of time. Diagnosis of occupationa diseases also remains a major issue of concern, with a lack of trained doctors capable of diagnosing these problems and conditions and their access to the workers. Yet workers are suffering which is evident from the case studies in the reports. Workers’ compensation and social securityIt emerges quite clearly from all the reports the difficulties that sick and injured workers face in getting compensation. As mentioned earlier, the majority of workers do not take this course as they are not covered by any insurance plan. Even the workers who are covered find the process very difficult and cumbersome. It emerges from the reports, that in some countries, such as China and India, workers find it difficult even to prove their employment as there are no employment contracts. The process to claim compensation is also very complicated, and cumbersome and puts a lot of pressure on the already sick and injured workers and their families. Diagnosis remains a major issue as it is the first step to prove the sickness or injury and its origin in the workplace. It is also reflected that the diagnostic process is not a fair process, and employers often interfere with the process as it can raise the issues of liability. Many migrant workers are fired once they are sick as reflected in report from China, and they go back to their home town without claiming any compensation. This type of mistreatment has been reported by workers in other parts of Asia also. Workers who manage to cross these hurdles and secure compensation, find the amount of compensation is not fair and often findit difficult to have a decent living on that amount, especially considering that many of them have spent a large amount on their treatment, a process can take many years. Profits out of misery
The institutions that administer workers’ compensation and social security funds amass huge profits managing and investing the contributions from employers and sometimes from the workers. This money that is intended for their compensation and medical treatment keeps on accumulating as evident considering the number of workers that are compensated. This is reflected in JAMSOSTEK – social security institution in Indonesia, ESI in India and also in China. The fund administrators often find it lucrative to invest the funds for higher returns rather than compensating the workers. Conclusion
Workers have paid the ‘ultimate price’ all through the history of industrial growth. The year 2011 was the centenary anniversary of the infamous ‘Triangle Fire’ which engulfed the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York in March 1911, killing 146 garment workers, most of them whom were women. It was and continues to be one of the worst industrial disasters. In similar situations, thousands of workers have died due to exposure to harmful substances, mothers have passed these hazards onto unborn children in electronics factories from Silicon Valley in California to plants in Scotland; and fathers have clogged their lungs with asbestos fibers and even brought it home in their clothing, devastating whole families. The effects ofthese past exposures reverberate even now in these countries, and even though many of the harmful chemicals have either been nationally banned or reduced, including asbestos which is banned in more than 90 countries worldwide. In spite of so much death and destruction around the world in the past, it seems few lessons have been learned in Asia. In 1992, a fire in the Kader Toy factory, also known as the Triangle Fire of Asia, killed more than 188 workers, mostly women. As in the Triangle factory, the doors in the Kader factory were locked, too. Factory fires in Bangladesh continue even now to kill hundreds every year. Asia also continues to use hazardous substances as part of its manufacturing processes, even when those substances have been banned in the West. Asbestos is one glaring example. Asia is the largest consumer of asbestos in the world,accounting for 45 percent of world demand. Victims organising has been crucial in Asia in demanding justice and there have been some victories in different parts of Asia, including China, where victims have led the fight and won. These victories, though small, are vital in the long struggle for rights. They also emphasize the importance of victims’ empowerment in the attainment of rights. As history shows, OSH rights were attained after a long struggle by victims. Black, white and brown lung associations in the US epitomized those struggles. Historically and even now, it is the power of collective organizing that brings justice. At the workplace, workers need a union; in the community, what is needed is a unity of residents together with those who have been worst affected. At all times, victims and their families should be given priority in representation. Victims’ organizing in Asia is truly as critical now as ever. There have been enough needless deaths and we hope that history does not need to repeat itself again. The chapters have been uploaded seperately and there are 6 countries covered in this publication namely - Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
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Jose Villavicencio's curator insight, November 11, 2013 7:03 AM

An article to think

Tjc ChinaStudies's curator insight, July 5, 10:39 PM

Migrant workers in China lacks social insurance coverage. Coverage also does not equate to compensation for migrant workers. Despite coverage in workplace injury insurance, migrant workers are not able to claim compensation due to complex claiming process, difficulty in trying to prove sickness or injury and its origins from the workplace. Employers interfering with the claiming process also results in lack of ability of migrant workers to claim compensation. Often, migrant workers are fired upon discovery of sickness, leaving the workplace with no compensation. Those who were able to claim compensation also found compensation to be less than satisfactory.  

 

Wan Ting 25/14

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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.

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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, 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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UK's £18m aid for Bangladesh workers

UK's £18m aid for Bangladesh workers | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
The UK is to donate £18m to help train Bangladeshi garment workers, following the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka that killed more than 1,100.
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Global health and justice groups demand that TCO withdraw its sustainability certification award for Samsung’s S4 Smartphone | Asia Monitor Resource Centre

AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

Occupational and Environmental health and justice and workers’ rights groups from Asia, Europe and North America today issued a joint statement condemning TCO Development – the Swedish certification organization – for awarding its first “Sustainability Certification” to Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Smartphone, in spite of the fact that Samsung has been severely criticized in South Korea and elsewhere for its dismal occupational safety and health record.   More than 180 young Samsung workers have developed occupational diseases such as cancer and 70 of them have already died after having been exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job.  In addition, a recent leakage of hydrogen fluoride in a Samsung semiconductor factory in Hwaseong killed another worker.

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Relatives scuffle with police after Jilin fire kills 120

Relatives scuffle with police after Jilin fire kills 120 | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Family of workers killed in deadly fire demand answers after plant official detained
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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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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, 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.

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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, 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, 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.

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Fire at Ashulia RMG unit

10 people were injured when they were running for safety after a fire broke out at a garment factory in Ashulia Thursday morning.
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Bangladesh police open fire at collapsed garment factory protest

Bangladesh police open fire at collapsed garment factory protest | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Hundreds of Rana Plaza workers and their families take to the streets to demand back pay and compensation
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亞洲專訊資料研究中心就中國吉林大火的聲明 | Asia Monitor Resource Centre

AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

亞洲專訊資料研究中心對中國吉林省家禽飼養場工人的死亡感到震驚,直到目前為止,已經有一百二十二個工人死亡,受傷的不計其數。這起事件是中國最嚴重的工業火災,超越了二十年前,奪去八十八名年輕工人生命的深圳致麗大火。非常諷刺的是,當我們在紀念致麗大火二十周年時,還以為緊鎖走火出口只有發生在過去的中國,現實卻違反著一切邏輯,緊鎖的大門令工作場地成了死亡陷阱,工人的血和生命沒有成為教訓,工人依舊遭受著沒有尊嚴的對待。跟最近發生在巴基斯坦和孟加拉的事件比較,人們以為中國至少在防火方面已經有所進步,但吉林大火警醒了人們中國執法不嚴的問題。此時此刻,我們與受害者和家屬團結在一起,要求當局向他們提供即時援助,以及彰顯公義。

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