Specialized Labour Institution

Empower Workers, Promote Decent Work & Sustainable Development

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B-BAN

Bangladesh Ban Asbestos Network (B-BAN)

Since its inception in December 2013 has been working on raising awareness, education, identifying affected workers and communities especially in Chittagong and B-BAN has the backing of the regional and global advocates for the complete ban of asbestos in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, Asbestos is not legally recognised so B-BAN is not able to work with full force.

For better understanding the situation of Asbestos in Bangladesh, B-BAN conducted a study on ‘The Situation of Asbestos in Bangladesh’ with the support of OSHE. This was the first initiative on behalf of Ban Asbestos in Bangladesh.

The research revealed that by laws and regulation Asbestos is not “Legal” or authorized in Bangladesh even import Policy for 2009-2012 has no restriction on asbestos as well. There is no specific government circular prohibiting internal production of asbestos though the Ministry of Commerce is responsible for controlling Asbestos in Bangladesh. But some other regulation on the different forms of Asbestos e.g. Bangladesh Customs Tariff Code (BCTC) mentioned of asbestos as importable items; BCTC, classifiably  mentioned that asbestos cement, fabricated asbestos of fibers, mixtures with a basis of asbestos, compressed asbestos fibers jointing, in sheets or rolls, friction materials containing asbestos. Labour Act -2006 of Bangladesh has declared 'Asbestosis' as a occupational disease. Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has imposed only 25% import tax on it. Asbestos traders are commonly alleged for hiding the information. Due to that exact volume of imported asbestos cannot be found.

there are different types of asbestos & asbestos contained materials imported in Bangladesh like Raw Asbestos, Article of Asbestos Cement, Cellulose fibre-cement or the like, Corrugated Sheets, Asbestos sheets, Asbestos Panel, Asbestos Tiles, Asbestos Tubes, Asbestos Pipes, Asbestos Pipe Fittings, Fabricated asbestos fibers (thread, woven fabric, clothing, head-gear, footwear, gaskets), Asbestos fiber jointing in sheet or roll, Friction materials (ships, segments, disks, washers, pads for brakes or clutches) and Brake linings or pads etc.

In Bangladesh, mostly Asbestos uses in Construction industry: insulation, sound absorption, strengthen cement; Car Manufacture: brake shoes clutch pads, gaskets; Ship building and breaking sector: to insulate boilers, steam pipes, and hot water pipes. In these mentioned area everyday Asbestos exposure over heat mats, carpet, blankets etc. Even though, Asbestos is widely used in dying of clothes. The dying factories use liquid form of asbestos to ensure the color more brightness and longevity.

There are several industries where exposure of asbestos is remarkable. Those are Ship breaking Industry, construction industry, car manufacturing Industry, Electronic Pen Production Industry and Food Production Industry etc. Among them the largest number of workers potentially exposed to asbestos in Ship breaking Industry, Construction Industry, and Car Manufacturing Industry.

OSHE survey finding on KPA towards asbestos among ship breaking workers-

  1. 1 out of 17 ship breaking yard managers knows about Asbestos
  2. 5% of the worker-supervisors are aware of Asbestos
  3. 2% of the general workers heard the word ASBESTOS

RISK ANALYSIS: Workers Attitude towards ASBESTOS

Workers show a reluctant attitude even when they hear about possible harmful effects of asbestos exposure as they never heard anybody suffering from any diseases due to this.

Burden of Asbestos Related Diseases

National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) under the Ministry of Health mentioned in the position paper that several serious conditions are indirectly caused by Asbestosis, such as Mesothelioma, heart disease and lung cancer. But NIPSOM did not mention any information on disability adjusted life years.

Incidence of diseases & compensation

  • There is no case of official acknowledgment as asbestos victims
  • Directorate of Health Could not provide  information on asbestos related diseases
  • The Labour Act-2006 of GoB acknowledged asbestos related diseases as compensable.

Government Mechanism for Inspection and compensation

The Government mechanism is that Department of Inspection Factories and Establishment (DIEF) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) is responsible for enforcement even to ensure the compensation, where applicable in line with Labour Act 2006.

GAP Analysis

  • Inadequate Information on Asbestos
  • Lack of understanding at different levels
  • Lack of interest among Govt. agencies to explore asbestos related information
  • Lack of Media Role on asbestos as public health issue
  • Importers are not aware on health hazard of asbestos.
  • Lack of research on asbestos in public health domain
  • Lack of diagnosis and identification asbestos victim

Ongoing campaign initiatives by OSHE

  • Compilation of information from secondary sources
  • Sharing findings with stakeholders
  • Promoting the discussion and advocacy action on ban asbestos at different level
  • Building social alliance with different stakeholders.
  • Production of IEC materials on asbestos
  • Production & dissemination of  campaign materials
  • Awareness rising in ship breaking yard and construction sector. The issue is included in study circle.

Towards Future Campaign Program

  • Extensive research /study on use and effects of  asbestos in Bangladesh 
  • Strengthening collaborative actions ( Ban Asbestos Network, Bangladesh ) and Develop Campaign Strategy
  • promoting media role for ban asbestos
  • Orientation on Ban Asbestos for importers, GoB officials and Media Persons

Introduce special diagnosis facilities in public hospitals for workers dealing with asbestos.

So this is the time for collective action and pressurizing Governments in the sub region to ban asbestos following the example of Nepal. The Bangladesh government should immediately come up with a national asbestos profile and a national plan of action to combat against asbestos related diseases delivering justice the asbestos victims and national time-bound plan to the complete ban of asbestos in the country. 

B-BAN is a member of Asian Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN). Secretariat- OSHE foundation, House# 19 (1st floor), Lane# 1, Block # 6, Mirpur, Dhaka-1216, Bangladesh, Phone# +88-02-9032947-08, Fax# +88-02-9032949, E-mail: oshe@agni.com, Web: www.oshebd.org

 

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