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International Occupational Health & Safety: 

International Occupational Health & Safety Tim Morse, Ph.D. University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT, U.S. Spring 2002


Outline Economic positions Theories of determinants of occupational health Estimates of occupational injury and illness Approaches to prevention Maquiladoras (Mexico) NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

Per Capita GNP (1987, World Bank): 

Per Capita GNP (1987, World Bank)

Labor Force Distribution, 1988, ILO: 

Labor Force Distribution, 1988, ILO 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Agriculture Mfg Services Unemployed Cameroon Tunisia Portugal Sweden

World System Theory (Wallerstein, Elling): 

World System Theory (Wallerstein, Elling) Position in world system Economic resources Strength of worker movement

First World: 

First World Tripartite structure Standards vs. guidelines

Sweden (Elling, 1988): 

Sweden (Elling, 1988) Labor strong 85% organized Labor party National law (Co-determination) Committee majority union Stop production process Hire/Fire company physician 110,000 trained union reps Linkage to health system

Third World: 

Third World Combined with effects of poverty, nutrition Priority of economic development Agric (60-80%) & primary production Development led to dislocation High unemployment

Third World: 

Third World Emphasize labor-intensive industries Control technologies not affordable Low or no workers’ compensation Highest risk have low access to social resources

Injuries/ Fatalities: 

Injuries/ Fatalities 100 million workplace accidents 180,000 fatalities Developing countries 20% injuries 30% fatalities Fatal rate 3-4X in developing Source: Takala, 1989 1.1 million fatalities injuries and ill (ILO)

Injury Fatality Rates (ILO, 1998; Cited in Herbert and Landrigan, 2000): 

Injury Fatality Rates (ILO, 1998; Cited in Herbert and Landrigan, 2000)

Global Burden (Leigh, et al, Epidemiology, 1999): 

Global Burden (Leigh, et al, Epidemiology, 1999) Indirect Method 100,000,000 occupational injuries 100,000 deaths 11,000,000 occupational illnesses 700,000 deaths Finish OD, Australian Injury rates Apply age/sex-specific rates to population Double rates for less developed

Occupational Disease: 

Occupational Disease Higher risk in LDC’s in occupations Pesticide poisoning 3 million acute poisonings/yr (Jeyaratnam, 1985) 220,000 fatal Concentrated in LDC Organic dusts

Occupational Disease: 

Occupational Disease Noise Heat Stress Reduces use of PPE Bloodborne diseases 2 billion hep B carriers (world) HIV in Africa


Regulations Alma Alta declaration, WHO Incorp occ health services in primary care Colonial history Use modified western standards Lag behind knowledge Not suited to conditions

National Strategy should include (Reich & Okubo): 

National Strategy should include (Reich & Okubo) Institutional development Info management Training Safety Standards Enforcement Social values

ILO (Intrl. Labor Office): 

ILO (Intrl. Labor Office) Standard setting Training materials CIS Centers Chemical safety data sheets Information exchange Technical cooperation


Multi-nationals Tension with US workers (jobs, NAFTA) Lower wages, less job security, weak unions Lower national standards & enforcement Usually better conditions than other local plants (corporate policy)

Maquiladoras (1995): 

Maquiladoras (1995) 2,200 Maquilas along Mexican border 90% US owned 550,000 employed, 65% women 48 hour standard work week Ave. take home $15-25 per week government unions

Maquiladoras (Moure-Eraso, 1997): 

Maquiladoras (Moure-Eraso, 1997) 65% women Little industrial experience Labor turnover high (14%-180% per year in different provinces) Mixed studies on reproductive hazards

Maquiladoras: Survey (Moure-Eraso, 1997): 

Maquiladoras: Survey (Moure-Eraso, 1997) 267 maquila workers interviewed in home, 1992 81% female, mean age = 25 Living conditions generally good; 80% indoor plumbing, 75% cement floors 45-48 hour work week Ave weekly wage=$40 US ($0.93/hr)


Exposures Dust 51% Gas 60% Poor ventilation 51% Skin contact 50%


Symptoms 56% headache 53% unusual fatigue 51% depression for no reason 41% forgetfullness 41% chest pressure 39% difficulty falling asleep 37% stomach pain 36% dizzy 33% numbness/tingling

Lead among radiator repair Dykeman et al, 2002: 

Lead among radiator repair Dykeman et al, 2002 Radiator repair workers in Mexico 35.5 ug/dl vs 13.6 for working controls Risk factors Smoking # radiators repaired/day Use of a uniform (not laundered)

Mexican Safety Regulation: GAO: 

Mexican Safety Regulation: GAO Survey of 8 auto plants (of 12 selected) advance notice 2-day walkthrough Interviews with Mexican officials, OSHA 6/8 had parent company support for H&S Use of older equipment Had been visited by STPS US: 80% of auto parts plants with OSHA violations

GAO Results: 

GAO Results Lack of hazard-specific programs Hazards present at all 8 plants 42% workers reported hand/arm pain 70% worked less than 6 months machine guarding 6 plants emerg exit problems lack of safety signs; some English only

GAO Findings: 

GAO Findings 6 facilities over 90 dB noise had plugs, many not using Lead, silica, solvents, welding gases Respirators not used properly

GAO: Hazard Programs: 

GAO: Hazard Programs

GAO: Hazard Programs: 

GAO: Hazard Programs

Mexican Regulation: 

Mexican Regulation Law strong in some respects H&S Committees Problems No first instance penalties Specific standards weak in key areas Max fine $1,500 Low WC costs

NAFTA Chapter 11 (Moyers): 

NAFTA Chapter 11 (Moyers) Allows suits by companies or shareholders if “tantamount to expropriation” Methanex $1 bil suit vs. California for regulating MTBE Metalclad $16 mill settlement vs Mexico for not allowing haz waste plant to open Ethyl $!3 mil settlement for temp ban on MMT gas additive, withdraw ban, letter Secret tribunals Expanded Free Trade Agreement for Americas “Diminish value of investment”

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