Sfl.Asbestos.Cathy Walker.Sept13.2009
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    Sfl.Asbestos.Cathy Walker.Sept13.2009 Sfl.Asbestos.Cathy Walker.Sept13.2009 Presentation Transcript

    • The Politics of Asbestos: Canada’s Shame September 13, 2009 Saskatchewan Federation of Labour OHS Conference, Saskatoon Cathy Walker Former H&S Director, CAW
    • Thanks to SFL, Larry Hubich and Bob Sass
    • Asbestos: Killer Dust
    • We’ve known about the hazards of asbestos since the First Century
      • Pliny the Elder reported on Roman slaves having sickened lungs from weaving asbestos into cloth
    • Charlemagne used asbestos napkins, 800 AD
      • He threw soiled napkins into the fire and they came out clean
    • Insurance companies stopped issuing life insurance to asbestos workers
      • Cape Asbestos plant in London, England, 1910
    • Asbestos insulation sprayers, 1960s and 70s
    • Union went to Dr. Irving Selikoff: New York and New Jersey asbestos sprayers
    • Selikoff Examined 1,117 asbestos insulation workers
      • More than 50% already had asbestosis determined by X-Rays
      • For those exposed more than 20 years, 339 of 392 (87%) had asbestosis
      • Lung cancers were 7 times the expected rate
      • Gastrointestinal cancers were 3 times the expected rate
    • Asbestos stopped being used as sprayed on insulation, halfway through building the World Trade Centre buildings
    • But of course there was still lots of asbestos in the September 11, 2001 dust
    •  
    • Do you have to be covered in dust to die from asbestos?
      • The answer is “no”
      • Professors CAUT employed at the University of Manitoba have died from asbestos exposure
    • Where is asbestos in your workplace?
      • If you don’t know, find out
      • Where is asbestos likely to be found?
      • In this workplace it’s in the cladding around the building.
      • But it can be almost anywhere
    • Around beams
    • Ceilings (used for noise as well as fire insulation)
    • In insulation
    • Deteriorated insulation
    • Around Boilers
    • Around Pipes
    • Asbestos Cement
    • In Ceiling Tiles
      • Canadian school, 2002
    • In floor tiles
    • When asbestos deteriorates it becomes “friable” (crumbly)
    • When it becomes friable it is released into the air and you can breathe it in
    • You can also ingest it
    • What is asbestos?
      • It is a “natural” fibre found in the ground
      • It is mined and processed and used to be used in a wide variety of products
    • Two main Asbestos groups
      • Amphiboles (straight fibres)
      • Serpentine (curly fibres)
    • There’s not really a lot of difference
      • Amphiboles
        • Crocidolite
        • Amosite
      • Serpentine
        • Chrysotile:
        • 95% of world asbestos
        • Includes Canadian asbestos:
    • Excellent Insulation
      • It is a nearly perfect product for insulation
      • It is fireproof and virtually indestructible
      • Great for brake pads and many other products
    • Indestructible everywhere
      • These indestructible asbestos fibres stay in your lungs forever
    • Asbestos fibres in lung tissue
    • They are inhaled deep into the lung into the tiny air sacs where oxygen is transferred into the bloodstream
    • Asbestos fibres are so tiny there are a million of them in three centimetres
    • At the cell level your body tries to protect you from the invading fibres
      • Macrophage engulfing an asbestos fibre
      • And scarring results
    • What diseases are caused by asbestos?
      • Asbestosis (scarring of the lungs) from high exposures
    • This is what your lung is supposed to look like
    • Not like this
    • Today, asbestosis is not an issue for most union members in Canada since exposures are not that high
    • For union members, the major risk is from cancer
      • Which cancers? – a variety
      • Cancer is an issue for even low exposures
      • Why?
    • We are all made up of cells
    • Cancer: damage to a single cell starts the clock ticking
    • Ingest asbestos fibres into our gastrointestinal system
    • Gastrointestinal cancer
    • Colon cancer is a common cancer
    • We can breathe in asbestos fibres
    • Main asbestos related cancers are:
      • Lung Cancer
      • Mesothelioma
      • This is lung cancer
    • Mesothelioma
      • Of the lining around the lung, pleural mesothelioma
      • Of the lining around the abdomen, peritoneal mesothelioma (risk is from high exposure)
      • Mesothelioma is always associated with asbestos
      • And, unfortunately, it is fatal, usually within 6-12 months
    • Pleural Mesothelioma
      • Tumour in the lining of the lung
      • It crushes the life out of you
      • There is no cure
      • Often 30 to 45 years after exposure
    • They can operate and take out some ribs and part of your lung to let the tumour grow
    • How much is too much?
      • Very small amounts over many years can cause mesothelioma
      • Large amounts over a short period (a few weeks) can cause mesothelioma
    • One bad fire: apparently enough
      • The downtown Air Canada Toronto reservations office had a fire resulting in asbestos insulation falling on clerks’ desks
      • They had to return to work before it was cleaned up
      • A CAW member contracted mesothelioma years later and she died
    • Pleural Plaques
      • Always associated with asbestos exposure
      • You’re usually not sick yet
      • Early warning sign
      • Some experience unrelenting pain, eg. daughter of tactonite miner, exposed as a child, 31 years of increasing pain
    • Family members of asbestos workers
      • Asbestos exposure from hugging, washing clothes
      • Some contract pleural plaques
      • Some contract mesothelioma, eg. 14 year old son of a CAW member. He died at 16.
      • 1979 study:
        • 679 wives and children
        • 39% had signs of asbestos scarring on lungs
    • Signs and Symptoms of asbestos disease
      • Shortness of breath
      • Chest pain
      • Visible on X-Ray
      • Confirmed at autopsy
      • Lung cancer – at this stage may be no signs and symptoms
    • But what about smoking?
      • Risk of lung cancer from asbestos is 5 times the general population
      • Risk of lung cancer from smoking is 10 times the general population
      • Risk of lung cancer from smoking combined with asbestos exposure is 50-90 times the general population
    • So how do we protect union members?
      • Work closely with the health and safety committee members
      • Skilled trades workers are often most at risk
      • They have to work in asbestos-containing areas
      • So they need to know where the asbestos is
    • We have banned the use of asbestos in major collective agreements
      • We now have to bargain its safe, effective removal
    • Work refusals lead to action on asbestos
      • At airports throughout Canada
      • CAW members exercised their right to refuse unsafe work under the Canada Labour Code
      • Through the courage of these women union members, they protected themselves, their fellow workers and the public
    • Is there a map and is asbestos identified clearly?
      • Each place where asbestos is found must have a clear label
      • There should be a map of where asbestos is found in each workplace
      • But we can’t always trust this information
      • If people are working on the ceiling of your work area and dust is falling and you are unsure, insist it be analyzed for asbestos
    • Insist on asbestos removal by knowledgeable firms and workers
    • Proper Asbestos Removal
      • Complete enclosure of the asbestos removal area by sealed plastic
      • Only trained asbestos removal workers to be in the asbestos removal area
      • Negative pressure in removal area so no asbestos fibres escape
    • What about encapsulation (covering the asbestos)?
      • Eventually, all asbestos will become friable
      • Every time it is disturbed, it gets into the air
      • Remove it competently and the problem is solved
      • If the building is going to be torn down in the near future, crumbly asbestos can be encapsulated
    • Asbestos continues to kill Francis Huggett: $102,450 plus pension; rep Karen Willsey
    • Closed in 1988, legacy of death lives on.
    • Holmes Foundry Claims
    • But what about Canada’s export of asbestos?
      • The Chrysotile Asbestos Institute promotes chrysotile asbestos as “safe”
      • Where is our asbestos used in developing countries?
    • Everybody needs clean water, right?
      • But these pipes deteriorate and break, releasing asbestos
      • And usually we export only raw asbestos so someone had to mix the asbestos and the cement, usually by hand
    • And asbestos is used in roofs of houses and huts where it crumbles directly onto the people who live there
    • Where is this asbestos roof?
    • Asbestos bags leak
    • Brazilian worker breaking open asbestos bags
    • Asbestos use in Peru: half is from Canada
    • Canadian asbestos in Peru
    • Working with Asbestos in Peru
    • Funeral: Asbestos Deaths in Peru
    • Asbestos Use in India
      • How little protection there is in developing countries for either workers or for the general population.
    • Ahmedabad, Gujarat India
      • Manager of an asbestos factory: “Our factory is so safe that our workers do not need to wear masks.”
      • The factory has received an ISO 9002 rating from a British company.
      • Broken asbestos pieces are used to fill up areas as driveways where vehicles enter the distribution area.
    • There is a water spray on the blade of the circular saw but the worker’s hair is white with asbestos.
    •  
    •  
    •  
    • These next pictures are from Pakistan
      • From a presentation by Laurie Kazan-Allen from the UK with photos from Noor Jehan of Pakistan
    • Assistant Professor Noor Jehan standing with a worker beside an asbestos dump at the Asbestos, Talc and Clay Crushing unit in Mohmand Agency, Pakistan.
    • Asbestos sheet cutting unit in Mardan City (NWFP) located on the main road in a residential area.
    • Inside this building is a flour mill; while outside is an asbestos crushing machine and an asbestos dump. The man in the picture has worked for 8 years on this machine and was not convinced of any hazard related to asbestos inhalation or its mixing with flour produced inside the building.
    • Canadian News: Finally!
      • http://watch.ctv.ca/news/top-picks/asbestos-basics/#clip190469
      • Dr. Jim Brophy, long-time health & safety activist
    • CBC News: Melissa Fung in India
      • The National: Canada’s Ugly Secret , by Melissa Fung, June 10, 2009, runs 15.14
      • http://www.cbc.ca/national/blog/video/healtheducation/canadas_ugly_secret.html
    • Why does Canada support the production of asbestos?
      • Isn’t is unconscionable?
      • How can our federal government oppose asbestos bans in other countries, including bringing a complaint against the French asbestos ban to the WTO?
      • To understand the position of the federal government, you have to understand the history of the union movement in Québec
    • Québec, mining asbestos since 1879
    • No protection in the early days, King mine 1896
    • Women also had no protection, 1930 Johnson mine
    • Yet in 1911, insurance companies stopped insuring asbestos workers
      • Because they were dying of asbestosis and cancer
      • This is a recent asbestos miner showing his X-Ray
    • In Asbestos and in Thetford Mines the towns were adjacent to the mines and tailings. St.-Maurice parish, 1950
    • 1949, Premier Maurice Duplessis ruled Québec
    • Le drapeau fleurdelisé, adopté par Maurice Duplessis le 21 janvier 1948
    • Duplessis, nationalist or imposter?
      • Fascist or statesman?
    • In 1949, miners in Quebec were prepared to fight back
    • Miners in Asbestos and Thetford Mines fought back
      • Against the U.S. corporation, Johns Manville
      • Against the Roman Catholic Church
      • And especially, against Maurice Duplessis
      • They fought for four months
      • The issues were wages, but especially, working conditions, protection from the killer dust, asbestos
    • Asbestos Strike Québec, 1949
    • Asbestos Strike, 1949 Who was there?
      • Jean Marchand, union leader
      • Gérard Pelletier, journalist with Le Devoir
    • 1949 - 1951, conseiller au Conseil privé
    • What did the workers think?
      • Globe and Mail, headline, Oct. 2, 2000:
        • “ Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1919-2000, Still a hero in Québec after all these years”
      • Rosaire Drouin, miner, speaking of Trudeau,
        • “ He was sort of the ambassador for the union. He explained to us our rights against Duplessis." “
        • “ He defended the workers. He was good for Québec and Canada. It's a long time since we've seen a good one like that."
    • Duplessis sent Archbishop Charbonneau to BC because he supported the strikers
    • 1949’s legacy remains. Debating anti-scab legislation in Parliament, October 21, 2003:
      • Mr. André Bachand (Richmond—Arthabaska, PC)
        • “ I am from Asbestos.”…
        • “ The scabs were the main problem during the strike of 1949 in Asbestos. I am not going to call them “strikebreakers” or “replacement workers”; they were scabs. There were fights, and the provincial police were there.”
    • Québec sovereignty movement Quiet Revolution really began in 1949 with the Asbestos Strike
    • Québec miners 1975
      • As you can hear in this CBC Radio clip, patients suffering from asbestos-related illnesses experience shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and persistent coughing often excreting blood:
      • CBC Radio clip: 1975, Thetford Mines, Paul Brodeur, etc. http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-75-608-3400/science_technology/asbestos/clip2
      • Miners still striking in the ‘70s over working conditions
    • Québec mines cleaned up considerably after the PQ nationalized the mines
      • Excellent ventilation
      • Protective measures
      • Still a risk at work, but not an enormous one as before
    • Tailings are still there Thetford Mines, 2002
    • Just Transition Needed
      • Relocation assistance for miners and residents
      • Retraining for workers
      • Income continuity
      • Pensions
    • These countries all have some form of asbestos ban:
      • Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil (4 states), Chile, Croatia, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Uruguay
    • How can we export death to the third world?
      • Chrysotile asbestos – it looks so innocent, but it’s so deadly
    • Canada Day, July 1, 2009 English unionists ride against Canadian asbestos
    • Support the international asbestos ban!
      • Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour!
    • It is appalling that this litany of death be allowed to continue
      • I call on all of you with as much sincerity as I can muster
      • Keep the pressure on the Canadian government!
      • Don’t let us continue to mine and export asbestos, killer dust!
      • Ban Asbestos!
    • I salute each and every one of you who has ever carried a sign like this: