Beware â€“ your work can make you sick!
Ethel Sibanyoni started working for Trade and Excelsior panel-beaters and spray-painters on June 29 1984 as a general worker. Her work involved polishing and cleaning cars in the workshop after they have been spray-painted.
She has worked for the company for 25 years â€“ more than half her life!In early 2007 she started coughing, she had a tight chest and had difficulty breathing. She also had a dry cough that took a long time to get better.
At times she experienced chest pains. Initially she thought she just had flu.She went to her family doctor. He did a number of tests until she was finally diagnosed as having asthma.But Sibanyoni found it puzzling that â€œI got better when I was away from work – on weekends, during public holidays and when I was on leave.â€
Years of research have identified occupational asthma as a specific work-related illness. Triggered by chemicals, especially in spray-painting workshops, and by dust, Sibanyoni has occupational asthma.And she is not alone.
Most cases of occupational asthma in Numsa-organized companies are found in the manufacturing and chemical industries. In chemical industries, the biggest culprit is the chemical found in spray-paint called â€œisocyanatesâ€.
Ethel Sibanyoni was put on asthma medication. Her doctor recommended that she be removed from the area of work where there are chemical fumes and dust that are triggering her asthma.
But her employer says there are no other positions for her. After realizing that the company was running away from its responsibility, Numsa referred her to the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), a state-run institute.
Their doctor confirmed that she is suffering from work-related asthma and her case was referred to the Compensation Commissioner for compensation.At the time of going to print, she was still awaiting the outcome from the Compensation Commissioner.
How do I know if I have asthma?Asthma is a disease of the lungs. It occurs when the airways in our lungs become narrow.
This makes your chest feel tight, you become short of breath, it is difficult to breathe. The condition is not present all the time and clears with medication. If you are like Sibanyoni and you don't suffer from these symptoms when you are not working, you could have occupational asthma like her. Visit your doctor. Explain what conditions you work under. Take with you details of all the chemicals that you are working with.
What rights do I have to find out what chemicals I am working with?1. Section 9A of the Hazardous Chemical Substances regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act states that: â€œevery person who manufactures, imports, sells or supplies any hazardous chemical substance for use at work, shall, as far as reasonably practicable, provide the person receiving such substance, free of charge, with a material safety data sheet in the form of Annexure 8, containing all information as contemplated in either ISO 11014 or ANSIZ400.â€ 2.
Subsection 2 and 3 of the same regulations says that the employer who uses any hazardous chemical substance at work, shall be in possession of Annexure 8 or a copy of sufficient information.
Employers shall make Annexure 8 or sufficient information available at the request of any interested or affected person.Note:Some employers have a tendency of keeping this information away from workers because workers are ignorant, not knowledgeable about the product or simply because employers do not want to spend money on personal protective equipment that will offer maximum protection from these hazards.
If you think you are sick from your job and don't know what to do, talk to your shop steward or organiser or phone Puleng Mminele, Numsa's health and safety officer in Numsa head office on 011 689 1700.
Qaphela â€“ umsebenzi wakho ungakugulisa!U-Ethel Sibanyoni usesebenze isikhathi esingaphezu kwengxenye yempilo yakhe esebenzela abacangcathi nabapendi bezimoto bakwaTrade and Excelsior. Usebenza ukupholisha nokugeza izimoto eworkshop uma sezipendiwe. Ekuqaleni kowe-2007 wavele waqalwa ukukhwehlela, wacinana isifuba futhi kwaba nzima nokuphefumula. Wayekhwehlela ngokukhohlozeka futhi lokho kukhwehlela kwathatha isikhathi eside ngaphambi kokuba ngcono. Ngezinye izikhathi isifuba sakhe sasiba buhlungu. Ekuqaleni wayecabanga ukuthi ngumkhuhlane nje ojwayelekile.Wahamba waya kobonana nodokotela womndeni wakhe. Udokotela wafike wenza uhlolo kaningana, kwaze kwathi ekugcineni wathola ukuthi wayephethwe yisifuba somoya (asthma).Kodwa-ke okwakumangalisa uNk Sibanyoni ukuthi, "Ngangiba ngcono uma ngingekho emsebenzini – ngezimpelasonto nangamaholide futhi nangesikhathi ngithathe izinsukwana zelivu." UNk Sibanyoni usengenwe yisifuba somoya esidalwa umsebenzi â€“ okuyisifuba somoya esibangelwa amakhemikhali asuke ekwispray-paint futhi avela nasothulini lwasemsebenzini. Uma ucabanga ukuthi nawe usunesifuba somoya esidalwe ukusebenza, khuluma neshop steward yakho, nomgqugquzeli weNumsa noma ushayele osebenzela ezempilo nokuphepha kwaNumsa, kule nombolo: 011-689 1700.
Pasop â€“ jou werk kan jou siek maak!Ethel Sibanyoni werk al vir meer as die helfte van haar lewe vir Trade and Excelsior paneelkloppers. Sy maak motors skoon en politoer motors in die werkswinkel nadat dit gespuitverf is. Vroeg in 2007 het sy begin hoes, haar bors was toe, en sy het gesukkel om asem te haal. Sy het ook â€˜n droÃ« hoes gehad wat lank geneem het om beter te word. Sy het by tye borspyn ondervind. Aanvanklik het sy gedink dat sy net griep het.Sy is na haar huisdokter. Hy het â€˜n aantal toetse gedoen totdat sy uiteindelik met asma gediagnoseer is.Maar Sibanyoni het gesukkel om te verstaan dat â€œek beter geword het wanneer ek weg van die werk was â€“ oor naweke, op openbare vakansiedae en terwyl ek met verlof was.â€Sibanyoni het beroepsverwante asma â€“ asma wat deur die chemikalieÃ« in die spuitverf en die stof by die werk veroorsaak word. As jy dink jy het dalk beroepsverwante asma, kan jy met jou vloerbeampte of met jou Numsa-organiseerder praat, of Numsa se gesondheids- en veiligheidsbeampte by 011-689 1700 skakel.
Hlokomela â€“ mosebetsi wa hao o ka etsa hore o kule!Ethel Sibanyoni o sebeleditse Trade and Excelsior Panel-beaters and Spray-painters bakeng sa nako e ka etsang halofo ya bophelo ba hae bohle. Yena o polisha le ho hlwekisa dikoloi wekeshopong ka mora ho ba di pentwe. Mathwasong a selemo sa 2007 o ile a qala ho kgohlola. Sefuba sa hae se ne se tiile mme ho le boima ho hema. Hape o ne a kgohlola sefuba se ommeng se ileng sa nka nako e telele ho ba betere. Ka dinako tse ding o ne a ba le mahlaba sefubeng. Qalong o ne a nahana hore o mpa a na le mokakallane (flu) feela.O ile a ya ngakeng ya lelapa. Ngaka e ile ya etsa diteko tse mmalwa ho fihlela e qetella e fumana hore o na le asthma.Empa Sibanyoni o ile a fumana ho makatsa mme a re â€œKe ile ka ba betere ha ke ne ke le siyo mosebetsing â€“ mafelong a beke, le ka matsatsi a phomolo, le ka nako eo ke neng ke le lifing.â€Sibanyoni o na le asthma e bakilweng ke mosebetsi â€“ asthma e bakilweng ke dikhemikhale tsa spray-paint le lerole la mosebetsing. Ha o nahana hore e ka ba o na le asthma e bakilweng ke mosebetsi, bua le shop steward ya lona, mohlophisi wa lona wa Numsa kapa mohlanka wa tsa bophelo bo botle le polokeho wa Numsa nomorong ena 011-689 1700.