Legislation banning asbestos use and providing safeguards to protect Ukrainians from deadly workplace exposures took effect on October 1, 2023. The asbestos prohibitions were stipulated in a law outlining the revised constitution of Ukraine’s Public Health System. “Production and use of asbestos, regardless of its type, as well as asbestos-containing products and materials, are prohibited in technological processes and during construction and assembly work at any facilities. Safety and protection measures against the harmful effects of [exposures to] asbestos and asbestos-containing products and materials are [to be] determined by state health and sanitary regulations.” This brings Ukraine into harmony with European Union member states and was accomplished despite fierce opposition from the country’s asbestos-producing neighbours, Russia and Kazakhstan.
EU tightens controls on asbestos in remaining buildings
In October, the Council of the European Union formally adopted new rules on protecting workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work. This directive updates the existing rules in line with the latest scientific and technological developments.
The updated rules significantly lower the current asbestos limits and provide for more accurate ways to measure exposure levels to asbestos based on electron microscopy, a more modern and sensitive method including a new limit of 0.01 fibres per cm3.
They also provide for strengthened preventive and protective measures, such as obtaining special permits for asbestos removal and checking if there is asbestos in older buildings before starting demolition or maintenance work.
Indonesian and Fiji Trade Unions build links with Australian trade unions on asbestos bans and safety in the region
During the first week of October, the annual Australian Council of Trade Unions Occupation Safety and Health Conference in Brisbane Australia. The visit was an opportunity for unions to share and collaborate on a range of occupational health and safety issues, with a special focus on campaigns in regard to protecting workers from exposure to both silica and asbestos and the fight for just compensation for victims.
The conference was opened by Australian Minister for Industrial Relations Tony Bourke and ACTU President Michele O’Neil. More than 120 trade union and OSH leaders from around Australia participated in the conference, including representatives from All Indonesia Chemical, Energy and Mining Union (Kep SPSI Indonesia), Local Initiative for Occupational Safety and Health Network Indonesia (LION), and the Fiji Trade Union Congress. Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Jacqueline King also welcomed international guests in a side event meeting with Queensland unions. Conference attendees visited an Energex worksite with the Electrical Trades Union QLD Branch to hear how workers and management protect workers from exposure to asbestos containing materials still present within the electricity grid. The international program was jointly organised by ACTU and Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA and supported by the Australian Safety and Eradication Agency.
This project is supported by the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency and the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).