Health - an introduction

Below are select introductory materials on business and health (including workplace health & safety).  Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the "Health: General" section of our site.

Key international standards

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: article 25

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: article 12

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General Comment 14

ILO Convention 155

ILO Convention 1

Key reports & guidance

Health and life at work : A basic human right [PDF], ILO, 2009

Human Rights Translated: A Business Reference Guide [PDF], UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Intl. Business Leaders Forum, UN Global Compact & Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Faculty of Law, Monash University [Australia], 5 Dec 2008 – see p. 125, “Right to health”

Fact sheets: Environmental health, WHO

Word from the Street: Toxicity and Health [PDF], Investor Environmental Health Network and Business for Social Responsibility, May 2008

Leadership Matters - The elimination of fatalities, Intl. Council on Mining & Metals, Jun 2009

Report to UN Human Rights Council - Addendum: Mission to Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands [PDF], Okechukwu Ibeanu, Special Rapporteur on adverse effects of movement & dumping of toxic & dangerous products & wastes on human rights, 3 Sep 2009

The Right to Health: A Duty for Whom? - Intl. Symposium Report [PDF], Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, 2004

Abra Pampa: a Community Polluted, a Community Ignored - The Struggle for Environmental and Health Rights in Argentina [PDF], Human Rights Clinic at Univ. of Texas School of Law [USA], Aug 2009

Concerns, company responses & non-responses

The Resource Centre invites companies to respond to allegations of misconduct.  Below are examples of allegations and company responses regarding health (including workplace health & safety).  We also indicate when a company has not responded.

Global: NGO alleges ArcelorMittal using financial crisis as an excuse to demand subsidies and delays in environmental measures, Jan 2009.  Response from ArcelorMittal.

Global: No Dirty Gold campaign calls on 8 “laggard” jewellery retailers to sign on to social & environmental standards on gold sourcing, Mar 2006.  Response from Fred Meyer Jewelers (part of Kroger), JC Penney, Jostens, QVC (part of Liberty Media), Wal-Mart. No response from Kmart/Sears, Rolex, Whitehall Jewellers.

Global: British American Tobacco has used its corporate responsibility efforts to resist international health laws to curb smoking, says report by Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid, ASH, May 2005.  Response from British American Tobacco.

Chile:Conflict between Aguas Claras and its workers over labour conditions, Feb 2008 [Spanish only].  Response from Aguas Claras.

Dem. Rep. of Congo: Report says tin ore miners, supplying Afrimex, work in appalling conditions, sometimes at gunpoint, Channel 4, Jun 2005.  No response received from Afrimex

Ghana: ActionAid report alleges AngloGold Ashanti operations exacerbate poverty, harm health & environment in Obuasi, Oct 2006.  Response from AngloGold Ashanti.

Ghana: Participants in workshop organised by Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining raise concerns about environmental & health impacts of mining operations, June 2005.  Responses from AngloGold Ashanti, Newmont.

Ghana: Communities raise concerns about environmental & health impacts of mining operations, Jun 2005.  Response from AngloGold Ashanti.

Honduras: Video "The real costs of gold mining: Goldcorp in Honduras" raises serious health & other concerns, Oct 2008.  No response from Goldcorp.

India: Indian People’s Tribunal report on alleged human rights and environment violations involved in Utkal aluminium project, Oct 2006.  Response from Alcan

Peru: NGO report alleges Occidental's former operations caused serious harm to environment & health, May 2007.  Respnse from Occidental.

Phillipines: Villagers not compensated for environmental harms, clean-up not completed, according to Oxfam Australia report, Mar 2005. Response from Placer Dome.

Philippines: Community claims Metals Exploration mine "endangers lives" with potential landslide - raises other safety, health & environmental concerns, Feb 2009.  Response from Metals Exploration.

South Africa: Bench Marks Foundation report says platinum mines in North West Province owned by Anglo Platinum, Lonmin, Implats, Xstrata putting workers' & communities' health at risk, Jul 2007.  Responses from Anglo Platinum, Implats, Xstrata.  No response received from Lonmin.

USA: "Toxic 100" list of corporate air polluters, Univ. of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), May 2006.  Responses from Alcoa, Archer Daniels Midland, DuPont, US Steel, GE, Eastman Kodak. Ford.  No response received from ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Tyson Foods

USA: "Toxic 100" list of corporate air polluters, Univ. of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Apr 2008.  Responses from Du Pont, Nissan, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Bayer, Dow Chemical, Kodak, General Electric (GE), Arcelor Mittal, US Steel, ExxonMobil

Positive steps by companies

Global: Endesa reduces labour accidents by 80% in 3 years [Spanish only]

Global: Pfizer, Merck & Glaxo donate $450 million in medicines for neglected tropical diseases [French only] 

China: World Economic Forum launches China Health Alliance, a partnership against TB and AIDS - companies involved include Accenture, BD, Constella Futures, Esquel, iKang, Karstadt Quelle, Marie Stopes, Pfizer, Swire Beverages

Dominican Rep., Honduras, Nicaragua: Project supported by US Govt., companies incl. Chiquita, Del Monte, Dole, Tesco, Wal-Mart , & NGOs aims to improve workplace conditions & standards at fruit farms

Egypt: Women's health initiative by Levi Strauss & Business for Social Responsibility expands to Egypt  

Equatorial Guinea:  Marathon Oil partners with Noble Energy, NGOs & govt., aiming to stop transmission of malaria on Bioko Island within 5 years

Mexico & USA: Tackling green tobacco sickness – Philip Morris & Reynolds American seek to help field workers avoid acute nicotine poisoning

South Africa: Anglo American ties managers' promotions to safety record, in initiative to achieve zero deaths at its mines

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Related stories and components

24 March 2009

Tackling Green Tobacco Sickness - Companies Seek to Help Field Workers Avoid Acute Nicotine Poisoning

Author: Lauren Ettier, Wall Street Journal

Workers who toil in tobacco fields have suffered quietly for years from a type of acute nicotine poisoning called green tobacco sickness. Now, the world's biggest tobacco companies -- under pressure from human-rights and farm-labor activists -- are...

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13 January 2009

Another mining town in Vizcaya cries for help [Phillipines]

Author: Floro Taguinod, GMANews.TV [Philippines]

The Runruno Land Owners Association (Rulanas) through its spokesperson, Kathleen Guillao, lamented that a mining firm [MTL Philippines Mining Corporation (part of Metals Exploration)] operating in...Runruno village remain unflinching to the plight of...

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5 December 2008

[PDF] Human Rights Translated: A Business Reference Guide

Author: OHCHR, IBLF, UN Global Compact & Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Faculty of Law, Monash University [Australia]

Readers are guided through each of the rights contained in the UN treaties...and given a description of what each right means in general terms and how it may be relevant to a company’s activities...To bring reality to the report, each description of a...

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3 December 2008

[PDF] BSR Expands Factory Women’s Health Initiative to Egypt

Author: Business for Social Responsibility

To address the need for health education among women in Egypt’s rapidly growing garment industry, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has partnered with Levi Strauss & Co. and the Levi Strauss Foundation to expand the HERproject peer health...

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28 September 2008

[video] The Real Costs of Gold Mining: Goldcorp, Inc. in Honduras

Author: Rights Action, in You Tube

[This video was shot in September 2007 in the Siria Valley...Honduras, where...Goldcorp company - formerly Glamis Gold - operates the San Martin open pit gold mine...Widespread health impacts have been reported in several communities surrounding the...

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1 September 2008

Green Edge 8 - Saving Lives on Farms in Latin America - Cultivar

Author: John Tepper Marlin in Huffington Post [USA]

The safety of U.S. food depends starts with the farms where our food is grown...At work now to improve farm safety and sanitation in three Latin American countries...are staff members for a little-known project called Cultivar...[which is] providing...

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13 May 2008

Dead workers, stinking pollution and forced evictions: New report highlights ArcelorMittal's global trail of destruction

Author: Global Action on ArcelorMittal

A newly-formed coalition of environmental and community groups - Global Action on ArcelorMittal - today released a report showing how local residents and workers around the world pay the price of ArcelorMittal's success. The report...contains nine case...

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1 May 2008
+ Español - Hide

Author: ComunicaRSE

ENDESA ha reducido sus accidentes laborales en un 80%, tras la implantación del Plan Praevenio 2005-2009, lo que la sitúa entre las mejores empresas europeas en materia de Seguridad y salud laboral, con un Índice de incidencia...que se ha situado a...

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16 April 2008

Anglo raises bar on safety with promotion ban [So. Africa]

Author: Justin Brown, Business Report [So. Africa]

Anglo American has raised the stakes in its crusade to achieve zero deaths at its mines, warning managers that they would forfeit promotion opportunities if they failed to improve the company's safety record. Group chairman Mark Moody-Stuart told the...

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17 February 2008
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Author: Beatriz Michell, La Nación [Chile]

"¡Por favor, dialoguen!", implora el intendente de la Región de los Lagos, Sergio Galilea (PPD)...Pero tanto los trabajadores como los ejecutivos de Aguas Claras [parte de AquaChile] hicieron oídos sordos..."No negociamos con violentistas", aseguraba...

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