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News News Australia and Asia’s asbestos epidemic

Marking the beginning of Asbestos Awareness Week, UnionsWA today welcomed to WA an international anti-asbestos delegation of health and safety union advocates and warned that the epidemic of asbestos relates diseases in Asia also poses a risk to growing numbers of Australians and West Australians who visit the region.


Meredith Hammat, Acting Secretary UnionsWA said:


“In most countries of Asia asbestos is still mined, imported or used in construction."

“The World Health Organisation estimates that 75 million people in Asia are exposed to asbestos in the workplace. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure".

“The ABS estimated that around a quarter of a million Australians travel into South East Asia each month."

“With chronic levels of asbestos use for building that means that many are being exposed to asbestos."

“West Australians are famous for our engagement in business and tourism with Asia and so our levels of risk are higher."

Mr Anup Srivastava, Education Officer for Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) and a member of the visiting delegation said:

“We’ve come here because Australia once had the highest consumption rate per person of asbestos of any country in the world and then you turned that around once the cost to life and health because clear."

“Those most at risk through exposure to asbestos are working people who often have to handle asbestos daily, sometimes without any protection."

“Globally, the World Health Organisation estimates that each year 107,000 workers succumb to asbestos or asbestos related cancers or disease."

Mr Larry Stoffman, a delegation member and a Canadian an Occupational Health & Safety consultant said:

“Rich countries have to help out poorer countries, and unions in countries where we know the risks and have banned asbestos need to help out unions in countries where health and safety is being fundamentally compromised."

”I wish to express the appreciation of delegation members to APHEDA, the Australian union aid organisation, for its support for this important campaign."

 

Delegation members:
Mr Anup Srivastava is the Education Officer for Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) South Asia Office based in New Delhi (India). As part of the asbestos campaign in the region he has helped BWI affiliates to take a policy stance on the issue, along with awareness activities and campaigns for a ban on asbestos.

Mr Inpeng Meunviseth is the head of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) in the Department of Labor Protection of the Lao Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU). Since 2010, the OHS arm of the LFTU has been educating workers in nine companies producing asbestos roof sheeting on the risks of asbestos.

Mr Larry Stoffman is an Occupational Health & Safety consultant and educator, and has worked closely with Canadian and International labour organizations and is an activists in Ban Asbestos Canada, a coalition of labour, public health, victims, their families and other groups.

Further information:

ABS 3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, September 2012
http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/3401.0Main+Features1Sep%202012?OpenDocument

APHEDA Ban Asbestos Campaign http://www.apheda.org.au/campaigns/asbestos/index.html

World Health Organization Fact Sheet: Elimination of asbestos-related diseases
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs343/en/index.html

 
 

 
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