Brazil: Unions push for multiple responses to health and safety issues

For the first time since the pandemic, the Brazilian Technical Working Group on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) met again with the representatives of CONTICOM, FETRACONSPAR, SINDIMARMORE-ES, SINDPRES, SITICOP-MG, STICC-POA, SINTRACON-SP and QUIMICOS ABC. The trade unions shared with one another the various issues that they face, as well as their respective activities, concerted actions and proposals related to BWI’s work plan in Brazil, which integrates the global union’s regional action plan and global strategic plan.

Among the key issues identified by trade unions that workers contend with are: 1. mental health (depression, drug use, suicides). 2. weakening of OHS inspection and training institutions, 3. growing use of chemical substances amongst workers, 4. Work machineries that lack adequate protection for workers, 5. large number of tailings dams at risk of collapsing, 6. refusal of companies to issue legal work accident communications, 7. presence of asbestos in demolition services; 8. exposure of workers to silica in the extraction and treatment of marble and ornamental stones, 9. multi-functioning generating stress, LER and DORT, and 10. moral and sexual harassment. 

To address these varied concerns, the trade unions pushed for the resumption of construction inspection activities by union members and technical advisors, return of training activities, including representatives of workers elected to the internal commission for the prevention of accidents and moral and sexual harassment. Complementary to these, the unions have developed special applications (apps) that assist in the production of information and statistical data online on the risks found in each workplace, and the corrective measures that can be advocated and negotiated. The said information is available online under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour and the Public Prosecutor's office which hopefully increases the immediate resolution of the said issues.

Moreover, a training program for “OHS brigades” will be coordinated by BWI together with its Brazilian affiliates using a 2022 training manual. Meanwhile, the training on the use of the said apps, the defense of FUNDACENTRO as a public body for Applied Research and training, and alliances with the technical areas of the labour and health ministries were also extensively discussed.