08/31/2006

"Asbestos is deadly serious ­ prevent exposure" warns the new European Asbestos Campaign

According to the International Labour Office (ILO), asbestos kills 100 000
workers a year worldwide. Although about 40 countries have eliminated the use
of asbestos, it is still being used in several countries. The European Union
and ILO have decided to start promoting a global asbestos ban. The European
campaign begins on 1st September. ILO encourages its member states to start
national asbestos elimination programmes.

"Asbestos is deadly serious - prevent exposure": this is the motto of the
European Asbestos Campaign 2006 for information and supervision to be launched
on 1st September," informed Dr. Bernhard Brückner from Germany, member of the
European Senior Labour Inspectors Committee (SLIC), in the Helsinki press
conference.

"The European campaign will be launched by the EU Commission and SLIC: a
co-ordinating committee of Member States' Labour Inspectorates. The campaign
will be uniformly conducted in all Member States and focus on the removal work
of weakly-bound asbestos, the maintenance and removal work of asbestos cement
and other tightly-bound asbestos products, and on the disposal of waste. The
main target groups of the campaign are employers, employees and labour
inspectors."

A Practical Guide to support the campaign

The campaign includes a "Practical Guide on Best Practice to Minimise
Asbestos-Risks" in work that involves or may involve asbestos. As well as being
used in the 2006 Asbestos Inspection Campaign, this Guide aims to provide all
actors in the field of work under the risk of exposure to asbestos with a
common European baseline for best practices.

The EU's leading role in protecting workers from one of the most serious health
hazards follows a clear and distinct policy of preventive legislation. Since
2005, a general ban of the production and marketing of asbestos or products
containing asbestos has been in effect. Handling of asbestos in any form is
prohibited in the EU since April 2006; only demolition, maintenance, and
removal work are allowed, under strictly regulated conditions.

Despite legislation problems continue

"Despite the regulations, the practical problem remains of preventing exposure
to asbestos in the course of removal, demolition, servicing and maintenance
activities. Moreover, in times of close economic ties and globalization, we
have to pay attention not to counteract our efforts by re-importing
asbestos-containing materials", explained Dr. Brückner.

ILO support for global asbestos ban

The continuing use of asbestos causes great concern to ILO. Its extensive use
in the past has caused a world epidemic of asbestos-related diseases today.
Director Jukka Takala from ILO revealed in the press conference that ILO
estimates that
100 000 persons die every year from incurable asbestos illnesses (30 000 from
mesothelioma, 60 000 from lung cancer, and 10 000 from asbestosis), and that
many more will develop them because of the iron grip of latency from previous
exposures to asbestos.

"Some 40 countries have decided to ban the use of asbestos. Still, two million
tons of asbestos continue to be used largely in countries in transition and
developing countries, endangering lives of millions of workers worldwide",
explained Dr. Takala.

The International Labour Conference (95th session, June 2006) resolves that:

(a)"... the elimination of the future use of asbestos and the identification
and proper management of asbestos currently in place are the most effective
means to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future
asbestos-related diseases and deaths, and

(b) the Asbestos Convention, 1986 (No. 162), should not be used to provide a
justification for, or endorsement of, the continued use of asbestos..."

..."The General Conference of the International Labour Organization,
... requests the Governing Body to direct the International Labour Office to:

(a) continue to encourage member States to ratify and give effect to the
provisions of the Asbestos Convention, 1986 (No. 162), and the Occupational
Cancer Convention, 1974 (No. 139);

(b) promote the elimination of future use of all forms of asbestos and asbestos
containing materials in all member States;

(c) promote the identification and proper management of all forms of asbestos
currently in place..."

ILO resolution calls for the elimination of the use of asbestos

To pursue the goal of a universal ban of asbestos, the 95th session of ILO
adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of the use of asbestos and
asbestos-containing materials, both now and in the future, as the best means of
preventing asbestos-related diseases and deaths. The resolution is designed to
bolster existing ILO Conventions related to asbestos and other carcinogenic
substances, specifically the Occupational Cancer Convention 1974 (No. 139) and
the Asbestos Convention 1986 (No. 162), and resolves that the latter should not
be used to provide a justification for, or endorsement of, the continued use of
asbestos.

Further Information:


AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work