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What Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA is doing
Asbestos researchers measure dust fibres in roofing factories in Vietnam
What is Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA doing about asbestos?
In Australia, one of the most tragic aspects of the asbestos story is that for many decades unsuspecting workers in the mining, manufacturing and construction industries were exposed to risk on a daily basis. Without education, alternatives and awareness-raising generations of workers in Asia may suffer a similar tragedy.
Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA made a committment to fight asbestos in Asia with the launch of a pilot program to combat asbestos and asbestos-related disease in Vietnam through the AusAID funded 'Vietnam-Australia Asbestos Disease Prevention Project (VAADP). The project was implemented by our partner, the National Institute of Labour Protection (NILP), the occupational health and safety institute of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL). The project also received assistance from the Asbestos Disease Research Institute (ADRI), the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and Building and Woodworkers International (BWI).
In just one year, we developed one of Vietnam's first asbestos training programs for workers and union officials, engaged with workers about their health and asbestos risks, and helped establish Vietnam's first focal point for asbestos issues - the National Resource Centre for Asbestos and Asbestos Related Disease. We also completed studies on asbestos alternatives and built research alliances that could help propel Vietnam to a post-asbestos future.
With the first phase of the project complete, we are currently developing a five year project that would reinforce the project in Vietnam and expand it to Lao PDR and Cambodia. Asbestos and asbestos disease is a relatively new issue for development cooperation so we expect it will take a concerted campaign to secure funding for such a program.
In the meantime, we are expanding the program in Vietnam and introducing it into neighbouring countries, such as Lao PDR where asbestos use is expanding. We are jointly working with Building and Workers International (BWI), the global union federation representing workers most at risk of asbestos disease.
Summary of Asbestos Disease Prevention Projects
- 2010 - Vietnam-Australia Asbestos Disease Prevention Project
- Vietnam imports around 65,000 tonnes of raw asbestos each year mainly from Russia, primarily for asbestos roof tiling
- Worked with the National Institute of Labour Protection, the OH&S Institute of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), but also with trade unions and factories directly.
- Established the first National Resource Centre for Asbestos and Asbestos Related Disease - a focal point for anti-asbestos research and materials.
- Researched low cost and more effective dust control masks
- Piloted training for trade union officials and workers on asbestos dangers.
- Contributed to policy debate - international experts visited Vietnam
- 2011 - Bridging program in Vietnam and expansion of project in Lao PDR
- Continued maintenance and updating of information website
- Running training courses for workers and union officials
- New information and education materials produced
- Tripartite conference on asbestos held (Laos has no regulations against asbestos at the moment)
- Mapping Project - identifying asbestos companies and number of workers at risk.
Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA
Ph: (02) 9264 9343
Fax: (02) 9261 1118