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IndustriALL and BWI issue renewed warning on dangers of asbestos

12 May, 2014As asbestos continues to be popular in the developing world, IndustriALL Global Union jointly with the sister organization Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) have released a new publication exposing the dangers of this deadly material and a set of guidelines for people who fear they might be exposed to it.

Asbestos is still used in developing countries to make many products, most notably fibre-reinforced cement sheeting.

“Asbestos is still around and there are those who continue to tout it as a magic mineral,” says the BWI and IndustriALL publication “Asbestos is a killer”.

Although this material is no longer used in many countries, asbestos exposure remains a danger because of its long history of use: not only in cement products but for hundreds of other uses such as brake linings, floor tiles, insulation and fireproofing.

Weak regulation and enforcement means that people are still being fatally exposed to the killer fibres. The publication gives detailed steps people can take in case they fear there is asbestos in their workplace.

There are a multitude of environmental and health related issues surrounding the use of asbestos in society. The publication provides for a detailed overview of the asbestos related problems and suggests health and safety activists should keep alert on the dangers inherent with the use of asbestos and to keep the focus where it should be: saving workers’ livelihoods and lives.

Despite advances in health and safety standards on many fronts, asbestos is still in use and the goal of a universal ban has far from been achieved. The first published article linking asbestos to disease came out in around 1906. No other cause of occupational disease has been as extensively studied, yet the industry remains. The art of denying scientific evidence and creating doubt in the public mind was perfected by the asbestos industry; and the tactics have been used by other industries wishing to avoid liability for their actions or products.