SAFETY OF WORKERS IN CHEMICAL INDUSTRY AT RISK

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 31 May 2016 – A recently released international report on chemical safety has indicated that in South Africa 25% of domestic market chemical companies do not provide their employees with chemical safety training [1]. This comes at a time when the global chemical industry enters into annual general meetings with shareholders.

In 2015, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation [2] together with groundWork [3] and nine other collaborative partners carried out two sets of polls on chemical safety issues addressing consumer opinions in 14 cities (in 10 countries) and company opinions in 10 countries. In South Africa, the city of Durban was involved in the poll.

Everywhere in our daily lives are chemical elements and compounds that have been deliberately added to household and personal hygiene products, in pharmaceuticals and in ordinary consumer goods such as electronics, plastic items and clothes.

Consumers in all 14 cities “were worried about consumer goods containing chemicals hazardous to health and the environment” and “the lowest trust was given to claims that a product is safe to health and the environment if the claim comes from the companies themselves” (Missing Pieces, page 6).

“Chemicals are an indispensable component of economic growth and welfare, but need to be managed properly. Chemicals that have unacceptable effects to the environment and human health needs to be phased out from production and use, whereas others can be regulated in ways that minimizes risks”, explains Johanna Sandahl, President of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.

In order to close the information gap which is produced as a result of the failure by chemical companies to evaluate the true effects of chemicals on public health and the environment, companies are urged to participate in the Chemicals in Product Programme. This has been newly adopted by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) [4].

Poor governance systems around chemical management abound largely, although not limited to, low and middle income countries. To address this insufficiency, decision makers have clear priority actions listed in documents such as the Overall Orientation and Guidance for Achieving the 2020 Goal of Sound Management of Chemicals.

This MEDIA ADVISORY is issued by groundWork (Friends of the Earth South Africa)

 

FOOTNOTES

[1] Missing Pieces report - you can download the report [20MB] here
[2] The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation is a charitable environmental organisation with the power to bring about change. We spread knowledge, chart environmental threats, propose solutions and influence politicians and authorities, both nationally and internationally  http://www.naturskyddsforeningen.se/in-english/about-us
[3] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working with community people from around South Africa, and increasingly Southern Africa, on environmental justice and human rights issues focusing on Coal, Climate and Energy Justice, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International www.groundwork.org.za
[4] Adopted by the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) on 6 February 2006 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals http://www.saicm.org/


CONTACTS

Rico Euripidou
Environmental Health Campaigner, groundWork
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Tel (m): +27 (0) 83 519 3008
Email: rico@groundwork.org.za