Thursday, May 22, 2008

Silicosis in India

Though there has been so much news out of South Africa and Turkey regarding those countries' struggles to combat silicosis, government officials in India have also been struggling with how to deal with an increase in silicosis victims. A recent feature in the Times of India highlights the struggles of a twenty-something man who is dying of silicosis. Most of the man's family has also died from the disease that he contracted after working in a quartz crushing factory in the Indian state of Gujarat. The crushed quartz is then used in the making of glass products.

From many of our posts, it may seem that silicosis is a relatively new occupational health issue, when in actuality this is far from the truth. Dr. Basil Varkey, who wrote the WebMD article on the silicosis, notes that while the condition has been noted as an occupational health hazard for centuries, more cases are now being reported due to an increase in mechanized stone-crushing practices. This increase combined with a lack of modern industrial hygiene practices in the developing world is leading to a noticeable increase in silicosis cases worldwide.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fumed Silica Plants on the Rise in China

Global demand for manufactured silica products is increasing rapidly with many new plants being constructed throughout the world. According to the Boston Business Journal, the Cabot Corp. is planning to build a new plant in Tianjin, China. With so many recent news items on the occupational health issues surrounding silica production, these new development projects are definitely something to keep an eye on.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Waste Management: Toxic Ship Heads for Cote d'Ivoire

After being rejected by Dutch officials in Amsterdam, a highly toxic decommissioned cargo ship is heading to the west coast of Africa where officials in the port of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire have agreed to clean the ship using methods that are illegal in most of the developed world. The ship is carrying 550 tonnes of toxic waste, and method advocated by th Dutch officials was not deemed cost efficient. The story is a grim reminder that there is more to "end of life" ships than shipbreaking. Waste management techniques also play a major part in the process.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Vietnam Takes Steps to Ensure Worker Protection

Vietnam had undertaken a remarkable five-year program to ensure the health and safety of its workers. Social Affairs Ministry figures show that Vietnam averages 4,633 work-place accidents each year. Of these, 468 are fatal and the cost of the accidents is about $15 million US dollars. Figures provided by the ministry’s Department for Work Safety show employer participation in Occupational Safety and Health, or OSH, training increased from 6.52 per cent in 2004 to 58.7 last year. Employee participation rose from 30.93 per cent in 2004 to 74.23 per cent in 2007. Electric installation is considered one of the country’s riskiest jobs and sometimes leads to fatalities.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

ENOC Hosts GCC Occupational Health Conference

Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), the Dubai Government-owned diversified Energy Group, is staging a conference on occupational health standards in the region. The three-day conference titled ‘Making it happen – ‘development and implementation of occupational health practice’ is being held under the patronage of His Excellency Humaid Al Qutami, UAE Minister of Health. Waddah Ghanem, EHSQ (Environment, Health, Safety and Quality) Compliance Manager at ENOC said that the conference succeeded in stressing the importance of occupational health as a fundamental right of workers. “ENOC, while providing a totally safe and secure working environment for its employees, has also been supporting efforts to place occupational health at the centre of any debate on safety.”

Indian President Urges Mine Safety

Today the President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, urged all the stakeholders of mining fraternity (the government, business & industry, academics and researchers) to take all necessary steps to minimize the adverse impact of mining on the health of workers and the surrounding population. Speaking at an event promoting mine safety, the President said that living conditions of coal miners could be improved by providing and improving basic facilities such as housing, water supply, medical care and education. She also noted that that the era of globalization, which demands competitive and efficient functioning, has resulted in the need for a new work culture and business environment in the mining sector.

Friday, May 2, 2008

China Records 14,296 cases of Occupational Illness with Pneumoconiosis at the Top of the List

The Ministry of Health reported that China recorded 14,296 cases of occupational diseases last year, including 10,963 cases of pneumoconiosis, a chronic disease of the lungs resulting from long-term inhalation of dust. According to the Ministry of Health China's high incidence of occupational disease is mainly caused by poor working facilities and unsafe production especially in some medium and small-sized companies.