For workers’ safety, govt urged to check buildings for asbestos

Published by rudy Date posted on April 25, 2011

Concerned over the number of workers affected by asbestos-related diseases, a labor group has urged the government to check public buildings for asbestos, a toxic mineral commonly used in building construction projects.

The call was made by the Associated Labor Unions, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines, and the Building and Wood Workers International (ALU-TUCP-BWI) on Monday, the day set by the Philippine government for celebrating “Earth Day.”

Policy Advocacy Office Alan Tanjusay of the Associated Labor Unions said the government has failed to address the problem of the health hazards brought by the use of asbestos.

“Government fails in enforcing regulations on asbestos,” Tanjusay said on a text message to GMA News Online. “That is why families must be protected from these killer dusts.”

Tanjusay also criticized the National Program for Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (NEPAD), a program for eliminating diseases caused by asbestos.

“May policy na mag-a-adress ng problema natin sa asbestos. Ito yung NEPAD o National Programs for Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases pero simula September 2009 napakabagal ng usad,” Tanjusay said.

He said there are no records on the number of Filipinos affected by asbestos because of the lack of laws that regulate its use.

Meanwhile, the union will commemorate the International Workers’ Memorial Day (IWMD) on April 28 with the theme “Unions Make Work Safer.”

The event will be highlighted by a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of workers killed in workplaces, including victims of asbestos-related diseases.

Health effects of asbestos

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos becomes dangerous when it is airborne.

When inhaled, its fibers cause inflammation that could lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and abdomen.

The World Health Organization said there are over 125 million workers worldwide who are exposed to asbestos in their workplaces, with 107,000 of them dying each year.

Many industries have chosen asbestos in the manufacturing of their products due to its resistance to heat. The products that have asbestos include:
# steam pipes;
# boilers;
# furnace ducts;
# floor tiles;
# cement sheets;
# millboard;
# paper;
# decorative materials;
# textured paints; and
# cement roofing.

Asbestos is also found in constructing houses, schools, churches, public buildings, malls and similar structures. – VVP, GMA News

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