Brazil: Dam collapse kills dozens, hundreds still missing
In what is Brazil's greatest environmental and OHS disaster, on 25 January a tailings dam at an iron ore mine in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, suffered a catastrophic failure. The dam is owned by Vale, the same company which was involved in the 2015 Bento Rodrigues dam disaster. The dam released a mudflow that advanced over houses in a rural area near the city. There have been 65 confirmed deaths so far, according to firefighters' count on Monday night, with another 279 people lost and likely dead.
Brazilian authorities have arrested five people: three employees of Vale SA and two other engineers working on behalf of the company. State investigators issued the five arrest warrants and seven search warrants, on suspicion of murder, falsification of documents and environmental crimes.
Environmental experts say such disasters could have been avoided: Stricter licensing laws and state oversight and the adoption of more modern technology could transform the Brazilian mining sector, making such incidents less likely.
Read more: Dozens dead and hundreds missing after dam ruptures at Brumadinho mine in Brazil. Brazil mining dam collapse sees five people arrested as Vale SA offers compensation. ABC news online. Brazil's deadly dam disaster may have been preventable National Geographic
Global: Future work report recognises 'fundamental' safety
A 'universal labour guarantee' including a recognition of workplace health and safety as a 'fundamental' human right is a central recommendation of a new report by the International Labour Organisation's Global Commission on the Future of Work. The report is the culmination of a 15-month examination by the 27-member commission, which is made up of leading figures from business and labour, think tanks, academia, government and non-governmental organisations. Co-chaired by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven, the commission last week outlined a 'human-centred' agenda for decent and sustainable work. This includes the universal labour guarantee that protects fundamental workers' rights, an adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces.
The report notes: "The international community has long recognised health as a human right. But in a world where almost 3 million workers continue to die every year as a result of occupational accidents and work-related diseases, it is time for safety and health at work to be recognised as a fundamental principle and right at work." Luc Cortebeeck, one of the three workers' representatives on the Commission, commented: "Regulation and protection of workers' rights is a must for the new forms of work. The employment relationship remains the centrepiece of labour protection and the Commission recommends the establishment of a Universal Labour Guarantee, with freedom of association, collective bargaining, freedom from forced labour, child labour and discrimination, and very importantly: adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces."
Read more: ILO news release. WHO news release.Work for a brighter future, Global Commission on the Future of Work, January 2019. Executive summary and full report [pdf]. Source: Risks 882