Tough Laws Needed To Protect Against Toxic Substances
“Most New Zealand workers are not even aware of the serious health risks they face from toxic substances in their workplaces,” president of the Council of Trade Unions Ross Wilson said today.
“The CTU strongly supports the findings by the Wellington Coroner GL Evans that there is an “ongoing work-related solvent epidemic currently facing workers in various New Zealand industries”, he said
“The CTU also supports the call by the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union for an inquiry into the use of hazardous substances.”
Ross Wilson said Auckland Medical School research has exposed an epidemic of deaths due to past exposure to asbestos.
“If urgent steps are not taken to protect today’s workers thousands will die in the future from other toxic substances,” he said.
“International Labour Organisation reports have confirmed that the number of hazardous workplace substances has risen from a few hundred thousand 20 years ago to several million today.”
Ross Wilson said the OSH Bill currently in Parliament would provide a greater focus on occupational health issues, and would give workers some limited rights to protect their own health and safety at work.
“But more action is required than minimal changes to the law,” he said.
“The CTU will be calling for the OSH Bill to be
toughened up and uunion members will deliver thousands of
submissions and plant 500 white crosses in
Parliament Grounds tomorrow to highlight New Zealand’s annual toll of work-related deaths.”