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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Plusieurs firmes pharmaceutiques se sont engagées à fournir au Burkina Faso des lots de médicaments d’une valeur de quelque 450 millions de dollars américains pour lutter contre certaines maladies « négligées », responsables de la cécité ou d’autres...

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25 June 2007

[PDF] Mining operations pose serious health risks [So. Africa]

Author: Bench Marks Foundation for Southern Africa for Corporate Social Responsibility

In a recent study done by the Bench Marks Foundation for Southern Africa for Corporate Social Responsibility, health and safety threats have been revealed that are closely related to the emergence of informal settlements around the mines and the...

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4 May 2007

Oil company accused of dumping waste in Amazon [Peru]

Author: Andrew Gumbel, Independent [UK]

[Occidental Petroleum] has been accused of contaminating…the Peruvian Amazon where it…[has] drilled for oil…creating misery for the local Achuar people and widespread lead and cadmium poisoning. A report issued by a coalition of protest groups…accused...

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14 October 2006

[PDF] Release of IPT [Indian People's Tribunal] Report on Kashipur: An Enquiry into Mining and Human Rights Violations in Kashipur, Orissa

Author: Indian People's Tribunal on Environment & Human Rights

An eight member multidisciplinary panel of the Indian People’s Tribunal headed by Justice S. N. Bhargava (Former Chief Justice Sikkim High Court) enquired into alleged human rights and environment violations created by a bauxite-mining project...

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1 October 2006

Gold mining company accused of abuse in Ghana

Author: ActionAid

A new ActionAid report - Gold Rush - highlights how poor communities in Obuasi in Ghana are suffering serious environmental pollution and social problems as a result of gold mining by a subsidiary of the UK-based mining giant Anglo American... Local...

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11 September 2006

Global Health Initiative Catalyses New China Health Alliance against TB And AIDS

Author: World Economic Forum, WebWire

A new public-private partnership to address TB and AIDS in China is being launched today by the Global Health Initiative of the World Economic Forum. The China Health Alliance ...brings together select companies, the Chinese government, UN agencies...

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20 August 2006

Marathon Fights Malaria: Why an oil-and-gas giant is especially well suited to tackling a mosquito-borne disease [Equatorial Guinea]

Author: Christine Gorman, Time magazine

...when Marathon Oil decided in 2002 to expand its natural-gas operations to Bioko..., company managers focused their attention on the region's crippling malaria rate. Marathon concluded that protecting only its employees and contractors wouldn't be...

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13 February 2006

Letter to Jewelry Retailer "Laggards" from the No Dirty Gold Campaign

Author: No Dirty Gold Campaign

...[T]he No Dirty Gold campaign [has] identified your company as "lagging behind" on making commitments to supporting reform of the gold-mining industry... Through numerous letters we have raised with you our concerns about the serious human rights...

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30 June 2005

Congo's Tin Soldiers

Author: Jonathan Miller, Channel4 [UK]

...inside the mountain, down the shafts and rickety ladders, conditions are subhuman...Afrimex, has been importing cassiterite from Eastern Congo for more than twenty years. But Mr Kotecha [Afrimex owner] refused to go on camera, agreeing instead that...

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