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Asbestos Ban on Track!

Nov 3, 2023

An article uploaded on November 2, 2023, reported that the Cambodian Government had confirmed its intention to ban asbestos in 2025 during discussions at a workshop in Phnom Penh this week. The event – which was organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA) – was attended by representatives of 11 Ministries, employer organisations, trade unions and civil society groups. International as well as Cambodian experts addressed the meeting; the need for the implementation of mandatory protocols to protect workers and members of the public was considered. See: Workshop stresses need to ban asbestos by 2025.

Implementation of Asbestos Ban

Jul 14, 2023

On July 11, 2023, the Occupational Safety and Health Masterplan 2023-2027 was announced in the Cambodian capital by the Minister of Labor; it included provisions to outlaw the use of asbestos and asbestos-containing products on pages 16, 17, 22,23,38,40,44, 45, 73,74,79. Details regarding the planned actions and a timeline for the prohibitions are on pages 44/45 and 73/74. They are very comprehensive and reflect the determination of the government to protect citizens from further deadly exposures. In his opening speech on July 11, the Minister specifically mentioned the asbestos ban as one of the ministry’s top priorities. See: Cambodia Third Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan 2023-2027.

Asbestos Ban in 2025!

Jun 14, 2023

On June 5, 2023, it was announced by the Ministry of Information that the Government of Cambodia would ban the use of asbestos in 2025 in order to “to improve workers’ welfare.” During comments made that day by Minister of Labor and Vocational Training (MOLVT) H.E. Dr. ITH Sam work by the Government to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard amongst ministries, institutions, partnering organizations, commercial ventures, and workers’ groups was detailed. The compilation by the MOLVT of National Asbestos Profiles in 2019 and 2022 were fundamental in laying the groundwork for the prohibitions to be adopted. See: ព័ត៌មានជាតិ កម្ពុជាបញ្ឈប់ការប្រើប្រាស់សារធាតុអាបេស្តូសនៅត្រឹមឆ្នាំ២០២៥ ខាងមុខ [Cambodia will stop using asbestos by 2025].

EuroCham Backs Asbestos Prohibitions

Jun 2, 2023

A new report issued by the European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EuroCham Cambodia) – a non-profit, non-political organization established to support European businesses operating in Cambodia – urged the Government of Cambodia to take urgent action on ending the use of asbestos, a carcinogen which is banned throughout Europe “in order to prevent future diseases and deaths in Cambodia, due to asbestos inhalation…” The survey undertaken by EuroCham was released on May 30, 2023; it highlighted the ongoing and widespread use of asbestos-containing building material by the construction sector. See: Call to ban asbestos import, use in Cambodia.

Roadmap to Asbestos Ban

Oct 14, 2022

During comments made to a meeting in the Cambodian capital on October 4, 2022 to launch the National Asbestos Profile, Labour Minister Ith Samheng confirmed his government’s intention to ban the use of asbestos to protect the health not only of workers but also members of the public. The Minister said that he was working with other ministries and stakeholders to end the use of asbestos at construction sites. Amongst the other speakers who addressed the delegates were medical expert Dr Quach Mengly and ILO National Coordinator in Cambodia Tun Sophoan. The event was co-organized by the Ministry, the ILO/OSH Japan Programme and Australia’s Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). See: Government wants to end use of asbestos.

Building Capacity for Asbestos Testing

Sep 20, 2022

Committed to protecting Cambodians from toxic asbestos exposures, on September 13, 2022 officials from the General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention met with representatives of Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency (ASEA) in Phnom Pen to discuss measures to build the country’s technical capacity in the fight for asbestos safety. In October, Australian analytical experts will train Cambodian technicians on the use of analytical methods for detecting asbestos fibers. On September 15, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training ran a workshop to devise a roadmap for the eradication of asbestos-related diseases in Cambodia. See: Oz team offers CCF asbestos class.

Asbestos on ILO Agenda

Sep 17, 2022

On September 6, 2022, the International Labour Organisation’s Project Advisory Committee on enhancing Occupational Safety and Health held a meeting in Phnom Penh about standards in the construction sector. According to Yan Thy – Secretary-General of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia who was at the meeting – subjects on the agenda included procedural matters such as regulations and policies adopted by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training pertaining to the health and safety of construction workers as well as challenges associated with asbestos in products used by construction workers. See: ILO holds third meeting on Occupational Safety, Health in construction.

Asbestos Alert in Phnom Penh

Sep 12, 2022

On September 9, 2022, Deputy Director-General Dim Theng of Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce's Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Department (CCF) met with Representatives of the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) in Phnom Penh to discuss the health risks associated with exposures to asbestos, especially amongst construction workers. According to a news report about this meeting: “Cambodia is yet to implement a law banning the import of products containing asbestos, although the CCF expected the government to pass a law doing so in the near future. The government is currently drafting a roadmap to reduce the impact and risks of asbestos-related diseases in Cambodia.” See: EuroCham, CCF raise awareness of asbestos risks.

Import Ban on Toxic Baby Powder

Sep 3, 2022

On August 20, 2022, Cambodia’s directorate-general of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression (CCF) temporarily halted the import and distribution of several brands of talc baby powder after asbestos contamination had been found. Explaining the reason for this action, an official spokesperson said: “Asbestos must not be present in cosmetic products because it can cause severe danger to consumers' health, especially as it can cause cancer.” Amongst the banned products were Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby powder and Johnson & Johnson's blossoms baby powder. See: DKSH recall baby powder after CCF detects asbestos.

Urgent Action on Toxic Talc

Aug 30, 2022

Cambodia’s Directorate General for Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Control last week banned from sale 12 types of imported baby powder from Thailand and Malaysia which had been found to contain asbestos fibers. Amongst the products which were ordered to be withdraw from Cambodian markets were: Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) 380g talc and J&J’s Blossoms talc 380g. On August 11, 2022 J&J announced that it would withdraw its iconic talc-based baby powder from all global markets in 2023, 2 years after sales of this product were ended in North America. See: Des talcs pour bébé retirés de la vente au Cambodge pour cause d'amiante [Baby talcum powder withdrawn from sale in Cambodia due to asbestos].

Promise to Raise Asbestos Awareness

Sep 6, 2021

During a virtual meeting on August 31, 2021 of Cambodia’s Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng and technical specialist on occupational safety and health Yuka Ujita from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Minister committed his Government to undertaking programs to raise raising awareness of the asbestos hazard throughout the country. The Minister confirmed plans to work in collaboration with the ILO as well as the Australian body: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA on this initiative. See: Phnom Penh Post – Ministry launches review of asbestos status in Kingdom.

Asbestos Identification and Analysis

Oct 16, 2019

The acquisition of new microscope technology will enable Cambodian customs officers to identify asbestos-containing materials for the first time. The new equipment and training were gifted by Australian donors: Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency. At the presentation event, Deputy Director General Ministry of Commerce H.E. Phan Oun, said: “This is something new for us … We know asbestos is a big problem. We need a long-term action plan to ban asbestos.” The new microscope and the training provided will enable Cambodian personnel to test products for asbestos for the first time. See: Spotting the Dangers of Asbestos in Cambodia.

Building Technical Capacity

Sep 16, 2019

Last week, asbestos training was provided by Australian technical experts to Cambodian laboratory staff for the first time at sessions which took place in Phnom Penh. State-of-the-art scientific equipment and microscopes for the testing of asbestos-containing material were provided by the Australian Safety and Eradication Agency in the presence of representatives of the Australian Embassy in Cambodia, Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, the Building and Woodworkers’ Union, the Ministry of Commerce and the Cambodian Ban Asbestos Network (CAMBAN). See: Photo from training session (sourced from the Facebook page of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA).

On the Road to an Asbestos Ban

Aug 2, 2019

A new article on the website of Australia’s Union Aid Abroad highlighted the importance of the June 28, 2019 launch of the Cambodian National Asbestos Profile, a useful resource for decision-makers, workers and consumers working to safeguard health and safety by identifying the dangers posed by asbestos exposures in workplaces and communities in preparation for the implementation of national prohibitions. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Leng Tong, Advisor to the Ministry of Labor and Employment Training, said: “Cambodia is still allowing asbestos use because we do not have tools for checking this substance, but in the future, Cambodia will prepare to erase asbestos, to implement an asbestos ban.” See: Fight to Ban Asbestos Boosted in Cambodia.

Progressing an Asbestos Ban!

Jun 28, 2019

On June 27, 2019, Cambodia’s National Asbestos Profile was launched in Phnom Penh by the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training (MOLVT) Ith Samheng in the presence of 200+ people from key ministries, trade unions employers and members of the Cambodia Ban Asbestos Network. The document, which was two years in the making, was the result of collaboration by 13 Ministries, trade unions, international experts and others; it highlighted categories of workers at high risk of contracting asbestos-related diseases and cited international evidence regarding the deadly hazard posed by asbestos exposures. See: Media Release. Launch of Cambodian National Asbestos Profile.

National Asbestos Profile

Jun 25, 2018

Last week, discussions were held in Phnom Penh to progress work on a draft of the National Asbestos Profile of Cambodia. Taking part were representatives from 13 ministries, trade unions, employers, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization and the Australian Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA. Research findings were reported from samples of building and friction materials that were collected in Cambodia and shipped to Australia for analysis. Over 50% of the items sampled contained asbestos. See: Photograph from meeting.

Ban Asbestos Action

Oct 24, 2017

A workshop entitled “Risk of Asbestos in Engineering” was held at the Engineering and Technology Training Center in Phonm Penh, Cambodia on October 18, 2017 by the Board of Engineering of Cambodia, Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Australia's Union Aid Abroad (APHEDA). The event was facilitated by Phillip Hazelton, APHEDA’s regional campaigner and was supported by trade unions, non-government organizations and government agencies; the tagline of the event was: Fighting together to eliminate asbestos from Cambodia. See: Footage of Cambodian TV coverage of this meeting.

Asbestos Road Map

Feb 23, 2017

Today, the launch of a working group to develop a National Asbestos Profile of Cambodia took place at a meeting convened in Phnom Penh. The event was sponsored by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in partnership with Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA and Australian Aid. The action plans resulting from these collaborations are intended to protect public and occupational health from the deadly asbestos hazard. The efforts of the working group – which will be conducted under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training – will be informed by medical experts, representatives of international agencies, civil servants and others. See: Picture.

Government Asbestos Alert

Jun 1, 2016

On May 31, 2016, Cambodia’s Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng called on employers to take action on the asbestos hazard, a substance which is commonly used in the country. “What is important,” he told delegates to an asbestos conference in Siem Reap “is the health of the employee. So the ministry wants employers and enterprise owners to be aware of the disadvantages of asbestos, which could affect employees’ health.” Reacting to these comments, one observer pointed out that the government has a responsibility to act on the human health risks posed by deadly exposures to asbestos. In August 2015, the Cambodian Government issued a proposal to ban asbestos; no follow up action has been taken. See: Employers warned on asbestos.

Working Towards an Asbestos Ban?

Aug 24, 2015

At a seminar held last week in Phnom Penh, hundreds of delegates joined government officials and Cambodian and international experts to consider the occupational and public health hazards posed by the continuing use of asbestos. The event, which was organized by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Union Aid Abroad (APEHDA), an overseas humanitarian aid agency of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, provided the opportunity to progress discussions on the formation of a national asbestos profile as recommended by the World Health Organization. See: Picture of Symposium Delegates.

Minister Commits to Asbestos Ban

Aug 20, 2015

At an asbestos symposium in Phnom Penh on August 19, Cambodia’s Minister of Labour Sam Heng confirmed the country’s continuing use of asbestos. Since 2009, the value of asbestos imports has grown from $1.3 to $4 million/year. Government speakers joined experts from Australia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos and the World Health Organization to consider the implications for public and occupational health of asbestos consumption, with Minister Heng telling delegates: “We are in the process of conducting a study, after which we will ask the government to stop the import and use of asbestos in order to ensure health security in the work place.” See: Gov’t eyes ban on asbestos.