On March 27th, South Africa’s Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism announced a prohibition on the use, processing or manufacturing, of any asbestos or asbestos containing products. The regulation’s objectives are:

  • To prohibit the use, processing or manufacturing, of any asbestos or asbestos containing product unless it can be proven that no suitable alternative exists, in which case a phase-out plan may be approved.
  • To prohibit the import or export of any asbestos or asbestos containing product provided that the importation is purely for transit through the country. Any person transporting asbestos or asbestos containing material through the country will be required to register with the Department and provide certain information on an annual basis.
  • To prohibit the import of any asbestos or asbestos containing waste material other than from a member of the Southern African Development Community for the sole purpose of safe disposal locally, subject to the submission of certain information annually.
  • The use of asbestos or asbestos containing material for research purposes will be allowed if the research is not being undertaken to produce another asbestos containing product. The researcher will need to notify the Department of their research and will have to provide a report on the amount of asbestos used and the outcome of the research on an annual basis. The Minister may review the permission on an annual basis.

The press release notes, “In publishing these regulations, South Africa joins more than 50 other countries that have put the health of its people first.” The United States, of course, is not on that list.

Reuters: An explosion at an illegally operating mine in China’s Hunan province has killed nine workers; five are still missing. The same day, one miner died and five were trapped in a pit collapse in central Henan province.

Boston Globe: A Massachusetts program run by the Department of Veterans Services works to prevent suicides among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Associated Press: A federal appeals court said that lawsuits from Ground Zero cleanup workers who claim they were not properly protected can proceed.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters: Testimony by Change to Win’s Eric Frumin at a Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety hearing highlighted the dangers that sanitation workers face and a “pattern of life-threatening safety violations” by Waste Management, Inc.

NIOSH: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is asking for comments on a draft action plan addressing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in an influenza pandemic.