Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims. Contact: Advocate Gopal Krishna, LL.M., Ph.D, krishnagreen@gmail.com

Friday, December 3, 2021

TATA Steel workers killed by asbestos exposure

Jason Williams, a TATA Steel worker got killed due to asbestos exposure. After graduating from university, Jason began his career in IT. While running cables and fitting computers, he was exposed to asbestos. Legal proceedings were pursued by Jason's Union, against TATA Steel, the current owners of the steelworks, after his death. His family has been awarded compensation. 

In a statement, TATA Steel said that they were unable to comment on any specific cases that had been dealt with.

They "take asbestos issues very seriously and comply with both the law and our own Health and Safety standard ensure we reduce any risk of exposure to those working on our sites." (Ref: Asbestos exposure from 20 years ago killed IT worker, December 2, 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-59491185) 

Earlier in October 2011 too, TATA Steel had to payout for Scunthorpe steel worker, 88 years old, Reg Grimshaw's asbestos exposure related death because Scunthorpe steelworks was owned by Indian multi-national Tata Steel. The family was  awarded £48,000 in compensation. Grimshaw too died from the lung disease mesothelioma.

Tata Steel said the claim was from a "historic exposure to a risk". (Ref: Payout over Scunthorpe steel worker's asbestos death, October 11, 2011,www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-humber-15242708.amp?) 

Grimshaw, who worked at the plant from 1938 until his retirement in 1993, is believed to have been exposed to the asbestos from the insulation lagging used on the pipework in the factory.

Tata Steel said, "Mr Grimshaw was exposed to asbestos on the Scunthorpe steelworks when the site was run by British Steel and its predecessor companies. Asbestos-related claims arise from historic exposure to a risk which is now properly understood and managed. Tata Steel has in place robust monitoring and auditing procedures that are compliant with health and safety legislation. Any claim involving asbestos exposure is assessed on an individual basis. The settlement of this claim has been handled on behalf of Tata Steel by its insurers." It is noteworthy that the name of TATA Steel UK features in the list of companies that used asbestos in UK. (Ref:https://www.nationalasbestos.co.uk/companies-used-asbestos/) 

There is a lesson for India from both these UK cases of 2021 and 2011 reported by BBC. 

TATA Steel is yet to facilitate diagnosis of workers who are exposed to asbestos and to compensate workers in India. It shows that while it may be taking asbestos issue seriously in UK, it is not doing so in India despite the verdict of Supreme Court of India dated January 27, 1997.

Indian units of TATA Steel must prepare an inventory of asbestos laden sites under it's operations, announce a compensation fund for victims of asbestos-related diseases. All the units of other companies which have used asbestos ever too must do so besides adopting a plan to make their units and products asbestos free. 

Gopal Krishna

Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI) 






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