Occupational Safety and Health
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Human Rights Watch urges Thailand to investigate slaying of activist who exposed toxic dumping

Human Rights Watch urges Thailand to investigate slaying of activist who exposed toxic dumping | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
BANGKOK — An international human-rights group on Wednesday urged Thailand to investigate the slaying of an environmentalist who exposed the dumping of toxic waste, and demanded that it do more to protect activists.
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Rajasthan announces welfare initiatives for mine workers

Rajasthan announces welfare initiatives for mine workers | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Rajasthan announces welfare initiatives for mine workers
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

In a landmark development, the Rajasthan government has announced welfare step for workers employed in the many mines scattered throughout the state.

The move is a welcome step for laborers as the state will share its responsibility towards workers employed in the sector.
 

Rajasthan has the highest number of mainlining leases in the country. The state has 1,324 leases for major minerals, 10,851 for minor minerals and 19,251 quarry licenses for mining stones, employing large number of workers, majority of whom come in the unorganized sector .

According to estimates, more than 25 lakh workers are employed with the mining industry in the state. 
 

However, lack of enforcement laws has helped mining companies exploit the situation. Laborers are forced to work in hazardous conditions leaving them exposed to diseases like silicosis. What adds to their misery is they are never compensated under any Act. The employers do not keep records of employment making them not liable for compensation under any Act.

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IPS – Profits Before Safety in Pakistan’s Factories | Inter Press Service

IPS – Profits Before Safety in Pakistan’s Factories | Inter Press Service | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Profits Before Safety in Pakistan's Factories - Twenty-seven-year-old Muhammad Arif works at a steel re-rolling mill in Lahore, capital of Pakistan’s northeastern Punjab province, producing steel ingots from scrap.
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

But even while export earnings increase, the country’s administrative machinery has been apathetic about working conditions in these factories, says Khalid Mahmood, director of the Labour Education Foundation (LEF) of Pakistan. He says this lack of concern over workers’ safety has dire, sometimes fatal, consequences.
 

Having visited Ali Enterprises – the apparel factory in Pakistan’s capital, Karachi, that went up in flames last September, killing 300 workers – he says he cannot fathom how the plant was awarded the prestigious SA8000 certification by Social Accountability International, a New York-based monitoring body tasked with assessing safety standards, just weeks before one of the worst recorded industrial disasters.
 

Reportedly caused by short-circuiting, the fire tore quickly through the factory, trapping workers behind locked doors.
 

Though the factory owners blamed the heavy death toll on the chaos that followed the blaze, experts say a lack of basic safety standards – like an absence of exit passages or adequate in-house emergency firefighting capabilities – was the primary factor behind the tragedy.
 

A good five months down the road, families of several victims are waiting to gain custody of their deceased loved ones: burnt beyond recognition, the bodies have not yet been identified, despite repeated DNA tests.

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China Acknowledges 'Cancer Villages' As Pollution Worsens And Disease Soars

China Acknowledges 'Cancer Villages' As Pollution Worsens And Disease Soars | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
As public discontent mounts in China over the country's worsening pollution problem and the government's lack of transparency about environmental concerns, Chinese authorities have acknowledged the existence of so-called "cancer villages" in a new...
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Samsung Continues to Cover Up Fatal Chemical Leaks With More Lies

Samsung Continues to Cover Up Fatal Chemical Leaks With More Lies | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it

Neighboring elementary schools have postponed new semesters in fear of fallout from recent chemical leaks at a nearby Samsung plant.  The surrounding community is unsettled with anger and frustration.  However, nine days after leaks of hydrofluoric acid gas that killed one worker and injured four at its plant south of Seoul, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. continues to cover up the fatal incidents with more lies.  The following is a quick rundown of new facts that the world’s largest chipmaker had been covering up since this blog’s last post:

 

Fact 1

Samsung said of the Jan. 27-28 leaks as the first-of-its-kind incident.  However, it was not the first time that hydrofluoric acid gas, a virulent and deadly impurity remover for semiconductor wafers, has leaked at the Hwaseong plant.  The conservative Chosun Il bo quoted a study conducted in 2011 by Dr. Suh Byung-seong, of Sungkyunkwan University and Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, and reported that a 37-year-old male worker was treated in Sept. 2010 after exposures to the acid gas. 

Prof. Suh’s study did not name Samsung’s Hwaseong plant as the site of the leak and instead described it as a semiconductor plant with 20,000 employees.  However, Samsung confirmed the incident, saying “a contract worker was exposed to the leak [three years ago].”  This is particularly outrageous because while Samsung concealed the leak from authorities in breach of law, a professor who teaches at a university and a hospital that Samsung owns, could still conduct a study of the victim. 

 

Fact 2

Initial press reports put the volume of the January 28-29 leaks at ten liters.  Later, Samsung said it was about two or three liters.  However, an autopsy of the 34-year-old victim known by his last name Hwang turned up a blister larger than one centimeter in the respiratory path, suggesting that the amounts of the leaks exceeded the capacity of his gasmask’s filter.   The exact volume of the leaks has yet to be determined.

 

Fact 3

Samsung ordered the four workers who were dispatched to the leak from contractor STI Service to patch up the leaks with absorption pads and plastic bags although the workers reported that the melted gasket needed immediate replacement, according to an opposition lawmaker who interviewed one of the four workers. 

It was about 11:30pm, about nine hours after the first leak, when Samsung management agreed to the replacement. Hwang, who ultimately died due to his exposure to the leak, had to work on the leak during his first hours on the site without wearing a protective suit because Samsung had urged him to stop the leak immediately so production would not be interrupted. 

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Rajasthan to issue notices to 27,000 mine owners - Hindustan Times

In a major decision that will provide around 2.5 million unorganised mine workers with medical, monetary and social benefits, the Rajasthan government will issue show cause notices to 27,000 mine owners in the state.
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

The government also decided to give monetary compensation to silicosis-affected workers and Rs.3 lakh to widows of dead workers.

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Samsung, a first-rate company with third-rate disaster response

Samsung, a first-rate company with third-rate disaster response | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Deadly acid leak at Samsung factory was followed by bumbling, evasive measures by the electronics giant
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

Samsung Electronics is under suspicion of covering up and playing down a hydrofluoric acid leak that left one dead and four injured. From the occurrence of the accident to its conclusion, the company’s response has been hasty and baffling, making one question if Samsung deserves to be called a “global corporation.” In addition waffling on the explanation of the accident, it has come out that Samsung impeded the police investigation into what really happened, eliciting a storm of criticism about the company’s arrogance.

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European Parliament resolution of 17 January 2013 on recent casualties in textile factory fires, notably in Bangladesh

European Parliament resolution of 17 January 2013 on recent casualties in textile factory fires, notably in Bangladesh | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
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Workers Revolt Over Toilet Breaks

 Hundreds of Chinese factory workers angry about strictly timed bathroom breaks and fines for starting work late held their Japanese and Chinese managers hostage for a day and a half before police broke up the strike.

About 1,000 workers at Shanghai Shinmei Electric Company held the 10 Japanese nationals and eight Chinese managers inside the factory in Shanghai starting Friday morning until 11.50 p.m. Saturday, said a statement from the parent company, Shinmei Electric Co., released Monday. It said the managers were released uninjured after 300 police officers were called to the factory.

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Wal-Mart Factory Rules Won’t Make Them Safer, Activists Say

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s new zero-
tolerance policy for suppliers that source garments from
unauthorized factories won’t make workers safer, a labor-rights
activist said.
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Charting the Changing Pattern of Asbestos Production and Use 1950-2012

A global double standard on asbestos exists in the 21st century; even as developed nations have banned or seriously restricted its use, demand in some industrializing countries remains strong. A recent analysis of data documenting the global asbestos trade reveals significant trends in output and demand over the last sixty years.1 Included in this article are a number of charts and maps which were produced for presentations by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) to illustrate the changes which have taken place; they are now available for general use and may be copied from this article or from a new Graphics Page we are developing, where additional formats and higher resolution maps are available. 

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Tazreen Fire – the Ground Realities | Asia Monitor Resource Centre

AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

A fire broke out at Tazreen Fashions, Nischintapur, Ashulia, Dhaka, Bangladesh on the night of November 24, 2012. The factory employed more than 1200 workers almost 95% of whom were females. The annual turnover of the factory was over USD 36 million. The major buyers include Walmart, KIK GMBH, Teddy Smith Ace, C&A, Li & Fung, Infinity Women, Karl Rieker, Carrefour, Dickies, Ikea etc. The fire resulted in the deaths of 111 workers and more than 300 workers were injured. This accident created an uproar against the existing work conditions in the RMG sector globally. Walmart cancelled its import contract with this factory considering its inadequate occupational safety measures. There were multiple investigations undertaken by the government and the garment association (BGMEA – Bangladesh garment Manufacture and Export Association) which termed the fire as “pre-planned” and sabotage.

 

The Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) carried out an independent investigation into the incident to highlight the root causes and failures resulting in the large number of deaths and injuries in the incident. The team conducted field investigations, visited the factory site, met the workers and victims of the factory, met government officials and other Stakeholders. The findings of the report were presented during a multi-stake holder consultation on “Safe Work at Garments Factories in Bangladesh: Lesson Learned from Tazreen Fire Accidents- Challenges and Way Forward” held at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka on January 7, 2013. A large number of people from different trade unions, NGOs, government agencies, victims, media, academics etc were present during the discussions.

 

AMRC and ANROEV wrote a report based on the ground realities we saw in Bangladesh based on the consultation and the site visit to the factory site. Both reports are avaliable for download below

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Tripartite meeting vows to ensure fire safety in Bangladesh

Tripartite meeting vows to ensure fire safety in Bangladesh | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Ranked the no.1 English daily of Bangladesh, 'thedailystar.net' is not just the online edition of the newspaper. It provides daily news updates and is the fastest way to know what's happening in Bangladesh and around the globe.
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

The government, employers and labour leaders have vowed to ensure fire safety measures in work place in Bangladesh.

 

To materialise their commitment, all the three parties promised to work together to develop a national tripartite action plan on fire safety by the end of February, said a press release of the ILO published on its website on January 15.

 

The stakeholder took the decision during a tripartite meeting jointly organised by ILO and The Ministry of Labour and Employment in Dhaka on Tuesday.

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Those Were the Years, When I Was at Foxconn 那些年, 我在富士康

The video is an interview of a young female former Foxconn worker's work and resistance at the mold production shop floor. She tells having entered Foxconn w...
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Samsung labour practices under scanner in France

French rights and consumer protection organisations have filed a legal complaint against South Korea's Samsung Electronics over working conditions at its plants in China.
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

A trio of French rights and consumer protection organisations said on Tuesday that they had filed a legal complaint against South Korea's Samsung Electronics over working conditions at its plants in China. 
The groups, Peuples Solidaires, Sherpa and Indecosa-CGT, accused Samsung of deceiving consumers by violating its own promises on ethical working conditions and using child labour.

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Soil Pollution Is a State Secret in China

Soil Pollution Is a State Secret in China | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
The Chinese government is more open about water and air pollution but reveals little about soil pollution
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[Indonesia] Five dead, two critical in workplace tragedy

Five workers died with two others left in critical condition following an accident in an under-construction septic pit at the Manhattan Square construction site in South Jakarta on Tuesday. The tragedy was the latest in a series of fatal workplace accidents in the city. The police’s preliminary inquiry suggests that the victims appeared to have died after inhaling poisonous fumes inside the pit. Police said that six of the men were trying to help a colleague who had fallen into the pit, which is located in the building’s basement.
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Jahleel Hilton's curator insight, March 5, 2014 8:29 PM

You really could not imagine a more disgusting way to die! I have visited Indonesia various times over the last 5 years and with little knowledge about OHS procedures it became very obvious to me that the national standards were very low. For those who have also been to Indonesia, I'm sure you would have the same opinion on this while passing by some of the construction sites. DANGEROUS is the only word I can think of.  I wonder why they do not make workplace safety a priority in their country?  Isn't it in their best interest to look after their people and ensure they are building adequate foundations?

Daisy's curator insight, March 25, 2016 6:51 AM

It's situations like these I want to avoid at all costs. I want to let people understand the causes and effects of their ignorance. Also the fact that seven people had made close to the exact same mistake is quite unbelievable. 


 


Daisy Sawyer 

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safety of labourers

safety of labourers | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it

The directorate general of mines safety (DGMS) is readying to crack the whip on 26,000 mines in Rajasthan which have not intimated it of start of operations since they have been functioning. Of the 30,000 odd mines registered with the mining department, less than 4000 have submitted ‘form 1’ to the DGMS, which brings on record the mine owner and labourers employed in it. This far-reaching decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the chief secretary of Rajasthan on Monday, in the light of silicosis victims unable to claim compensation, sheerly out of not knowing whom they work for. “It was agreed that the mining department will provide us with a list of all mine leases registered with it.

 

We will be issuing notices to all 26000-odd mines which are not on our list, starting with those in the silicosis prone districts. As the number of mines and hence paperwork and cost implications are large, we are thinking of publishing an advertisement in prominent dailies to inform mine owners both about submission of form 1 and commencement of wet drilling that can prevent silicosis,” said D.K Saxena, director of mines safety, DGMS speaking toDNA. Trouble awaits those mine owners who do not comply within a period of three months. “We will issue prohibitory orders to these mines and with the cooperation of the mining department”

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Bangladesh Police Arrest Factory Executives After Fatal Blaze

Bangladesh Police Arrest Factory Executives After Fatal Blaze | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Bangladesh police arrested the chairman and managing director of Smart Export Garments Ltd. after a fire last week killed seven workers at the Dhaka factory that made clothes for international brands.
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

Bangladesh police arrested the chairman and managing director of Smart Export Garments Ltd. after a fire last week killed seven workers at the Dhaka factory that made clothes for international brands.

Mohammad Sharif, chairman, and Zakir Ahmed, managing director, were arrested after the father of a worker who died in the fire sued three top company officials, police spokesman Masudur Rahman said today via phone.  

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Samsung Seen Covering Up Fatal Gas Leaks At Its Chip Plant

Samsung Seen Covering Up Fatal Gas Leaks At Its Chip Plant | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. failed to contact authorities for 15 hours after two separate leaks of hydrofluoric acid gas killed one contractor and injured four others at its chip plant, about 70 ...
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Bangladesh Fire Victims’ Families Wait for Money | The Irrawaddy Magazine

Bangladesh Fire Victims’ Families Wait for Money | The Irrawaddy Magazine | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
AMRC Hong Kong's insight:

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, a foreign supplier and the government promised to give the families of the dead 600,000 takas ($7,500) each, finance the education of the dead workers’ children and pay the November salaries of both dead and surviving factory workers.

“I have got nothing. Nobody is saying anything,” said Ansar, who uses one name and who lost his wife and daughter in the fire.

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China revises occupational disease classification

The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday began solicitingpublic opinions on its revised list of ailments considered occupational diseases.

The catalogue of diseases occurring as a result of work and which may therefore begiven special consideration under insurance has been newly amended to include AIDScontracted by medical staff through exposure at work.

The revised regulation includes 130 kinds of occupational diseases and adds 17 work-related illnesses to the list. However, chlordimeform toxicosis has been removed fromthe list as manufacture and use of the chemical that causes it has been prohibited,according to the MOH.

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Samsung begins compensation talks with sick factory workers | ZDNet

Samsung begins compensation talks with sick factory workers  | ZDNet | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
South Korean giant initiates talks, which will begin in coming months, with local advocacy group supporting former employees who have contracted leukemia and other work-related diseases at Samsung plants.
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SHARPS To Have Dialogue With Samsung

SHARPS To Have Dialogue With Samsung | Occupational Safety and Health | Scoop.it
After six years of campaigns and petitions over 56 occupational-disease deaths at the world’s largest chipmaker, SHARPS has agreed to enter dialogue with Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. over the ques...
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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, 2015 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