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

5 June 2005

Mining companies degrading the environment [Ghana]

Author: Ghana News Agency

Participants at a workshop organised for representatives of communities affected by mining on Sunday expressed deep concern about the effects of mining operations of AngloGold Ashanti and Newmont Ghana Limited on water bodies and rivers...The...

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28 April 2005

Campaigners Accuse Cigarette Group

Author: Phil Waller, Scotsman [UK]

Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid and Action on Smoking & Health (Ash) today published a report which they said used internal company documents to show BAT [British American Tobacco] was using CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility] to try to...

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16 March 2005

Australian-listed mining giant ignores threat to Filipinos' lives

Author: Oxfam Community Aid Abroad

A new international aid and development agency, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad (Oxfam Australia), details Marcopper mine's devastating impact on the communities and environment of Marinduque. It says that Placer Dome, co-owner of Marcopper...

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