LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to adopt the Environmental Ambiance Standards, developed by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, to safeguard industrial workers from health hazards across Punjab. The industrial workers, who remain exposed to respirable dust, particularly crystalline silica dust, contract a dangerous lungs disorder, called silicosis.

Additional Chief Secretary Shamail Ahmad Khawaja stated it in a meeting of a committee regarding directions of Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan to make a plan to implement the orders of Supreme Court for chalking out a plan to control, rescue and treat the victims of silicosis.

The committee reviewed the progress of implementation on the action plan and decided to send the report to the Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan.

It discussed mandatory screening of the industrial workers of stone crushers, ceramics industry and marble grinding industry along with nomination of certified surgeons to treat the silicosis patients. Views were shared on another plan meant for capacity-building of labour inspectors at district level.

The meeting was told silicosis had been included in the check list of occupational hazards.

Mr Khawaja directed the officials concerned to provide occupational safety and health kits to the inspecting staff of the Punjab Labour & Human Resource Department working in 18 districts of the province where stone crushing and marble grinding units were operational.

The Punjab labour department has offered a toll-free universal access number 0800-73774 for vulnerable industrial workers to register any complaint regarding occupational hazards.

Mr Khawaja directed the Information & Culture Department to launch awareness drive on silicosis.

Labour and Human Resource department secretary Sohail Shehzad and Information & Culture department secretary Raja Jehangir Anwar were present.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2017

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