Environmental justice group BAN Toxics on Labor Day called for the protection of workers against toxic chemical exposures and the advancement of the people’s right to chemical safety.
Thony Dizon, a campaigner of BAN Toxics, said it is paramount that existing regulations on chemical safety “are strictly implemented to protect workers from chemical hazards and reduce the incidence of chemically-induced accidents, illnesses and injuries, and death resulting in the use of chemicals at work.”
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), over a billion workers around the globe are exposed to hazardous substances, with an estimated of almost one million workers losing their lives each year. Health effects include cardiovascular disease, cancers, and respiratory diseases among others.
“The protection of workers from hazardous chemicals is essential, long recognized in ILO conventions. Yet, there is still the need for authorities to address regulatory gaps in chemical safety and strict implementation and the industries to guarantee chemical safety of their employees and take responsibility,” said Dizon.
In 2019, the Philippine Statistics Authority documented 54,551 cases of occupational diseases in establishments. The country’s Department of Labor and Employment has already released the guidelines for the implementation of a Globally Harmonised System in chemical safety programs in the workplace.
BAN Toxics urged the Commission on Human Rights to update its eight-year-old Human Rights Agenda on Chemical Safety taking into consideration the lifecycle approach, precautionary principle, and the public’s right to know and meaningful participation.