Working towards an asbestos-free world

17 November 2016 14:16

Delegates at the Third Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency International Conference have expressed their concern at the unequivocal rise in the use of asbestos throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Asbestos traded anywhere, they assert, impacts workers everywhere. 

The BWI and its Australian affiliates – the Construction and General Division of CFMEU and the Electrical Trades Union – will have to work with a broad range of actors and agencies in its mission to create an asbestos-free world, according to Brad Parker, National Assistant Secretary of Construction and General Division of CFMEU.


“At the same time”, Parker continued, “we’re going to have to work collectively to counter the chrysotile industry’s rabid propaganda and their allied trade unions that promote the "safe use” of asbestos. Their intimidation and threats against our allies must be roundly condemned." 

Despite being a national agency, ASEA’s national strategic plan looks beyond its borders to play an international leadership role in our region. It will look to Governments in South East Asia and across the region to coordinate and strengthen the work to asbestos bans and eradication. In 2017 this work will include 

1. In Cambodia, ASEA are seeking an MOU with the Cambodian Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to provide advice, assistance and expertise in its goals for a ban and eradication program; 

2. In Indonesia, ASEA can assist in bolstering efforts by national anti-asbestos groups to develop the medical evidence for removal and disposal workers, and support the development of a victim’s organisation for the banning of asbestos; 

3. Despite strong progress towards a ban and eradication the Sri Lankan government’s efforts have been stymied by the Russian asbestos industry lobby. ASEA can offer its assistance to the relevant authorities to provide advice on a path to an asbestos-free society. 

BWI’s Australian affiliates will work constructively alongside the Australian Government in the lead-up to a Geneva COP9 meeting regarding the Rotterdam Convention, which governs hazardous substances like asbestos. The Australian Government should take a lead in pursuing the listing of asbestos as a hazardous substance with Governments in the Asian region, and can support the initiatve of African countries to change the COP voting system to make it more democratic and representative.