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Michigan Mini Tort Claims – Recovering Vehicle Damage Costs in a Car Accident

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What is Mini-Tort?

Michigan’s no-fault laws do not require collision coverage. That is where the limited property damage liability or mini-tort provision comes into play. Limited property damage liability, known as the mini-tort exception allows for Michigan accident victims to recover up to $500 of their vehicle repair costs under certain circumstances. The purpose is to compensate a person involved in a car accident that was not at-fault for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the collision. Michigan mini tort law is premised upon people being free to purchase their own collision coverage. If an individual has existing collision coverage, the full vehicle repair costs from the accident will be paid from that policy. However, even if someone has collision coverage, he can still make a mini tort claim for incidental, out-of-pocket expenses such as a deductible. There are varying degrees of collision insurance, but generally speaking it covers the cost of repairs to the driver’s own vehicle.

How do you qualify and what can be collected?
If you are without collision coverage on your car, or your coverage is limited, and you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you can recoup some of your out-of-pocket costs to fix your car via the mini-tort. How much you can recover depends on how much fault you bear. For example, let’s say the damage to your car amounts to $100 and the other driver is deemed 75 percent at fault for the accident. Then he or she would pay $75. These cases are normally handled in a small claims court, but either party involved in the car crash may ask to have the case moved up to a higher jurisdiction.

How do you file a Mini-Tort claim?
To recover vehicle damage costs, you can write a letter to the insurance company of the person who caused the accident, and request the money. Include the police report proving the person who caused the accident was at-fault; a declaration sheet from your own insurance company showing your coverage; and an estimate of vehicle repairs and/or photos including the license plate. You have three years from the date of the car accident to file a mini tort lawsuit or collect your mini tort claim. After three years, your claim will be time-barred and you will be unable to collect your mini tort claim under Michigan law.

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Innovative Treatments to Successfully Target Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

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Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) is the most common type of mesothelioma with past asbestos exposure representing the major risk factor. While the search for new therapies that target the genes and processes driving MPM has been slow, two new approaches, which are immediately available to you, are showing significant improvements over standard treatment in clinical trials.

Before we discuss these enhanced treatment options, we must first briefly explore two key aspects of MPM progression: Angiogenesis and Epigenetic Regulation.

Angiogenesis:

You’ve likely heard of Angiogenesis. It is the physiological process that tumors use to recruit new blood vessels in order to sustain their continual growth. They do this by manipulating the over-expression of genes that initiate and direct the growth of new, leaky blood vessels from existing ones. This new supply of blood not only allows the tumor to grow, but also provides a mechanism for the tumor cells to metastasize (travel through the body).

The process of angiogenesis is governed by its own unique combination of genes, separate from those involved in the normal formation of new blood vessels (a process known as vasculogenesis). This, it turns out, provides us with an opportunity for successful treatment through the targeting of these unique gene combinations.

One of the most specific and critical regulators of angiogenesis is the family of vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs), which regulate endothelial proliferation (the formation of new blood vessels), blood vessel permeability, and survival.In MPM,over-expression of VEGF is common and correlates with lower remission rates and reduced overall patient survival. Clearly, effectively targeting VEGFs would result in limiting the blood supply to tumors thus successfully prohibiting their growth. And that’s just what we are seeing in current clinical trials. (More on that in a bit.)

Epigenetic Regulation:

A significant development in MPM treatment involves studies that focus on manipulating the processes of gene regulation, commonly referred to as epigenetic regulation. In MPM, tumor suppressor genes (the genes that, when functioning properly, naturally prohibit the growth of tumor cells) are silenced due to three key forms of epigenetic regulation:

1. Removal of acetyl groups by histone deacetylases (HDACs);

2. Inhibition of histone acetyltransferases (HATs), which add acetyl groups; and

3. Addition of methyl groups by DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs).

In MPM, the over-expression of HDACs coupled with the inhibition of HATs is considered a key process that leads to disease progression. The over-expression of DNMTs occurs in most cancers.

The benefit of targeting epigenetic processes is that they are reversible. Unlike a mutated gene which cannot be reactivated, it is possible to reactivate tumor suppressor genes that have been silenced by epigenetic processes. Thus, effective treatment must include some process whereby tumor suppressor genes are supported to maintain their function and reactivated in cases where they have already been silenced.

To this end, there are numerous clinical trials currently exploring the use of unique combinations of drugs to inhibit the silencing of tumor suppressor genes and to stop the flow of blood to tumors. Current clinical trials using HDAC and VEGF inhibitors are showing significant benefits in patient survival. For example, Vorinostat, an inhibitor of HDACs, has recently been shown to be beneficial for advanced mesothelioma patients whose cancer has progressed after standard chemotherapy.

The continued development and incorporation of these new drugs as part of standard treatment will undoubtedly be realized over the next few years. In the meantime there are some very simple and effective natural measures that you can take immediately that will directly and powerfully influence the growth of cancer.

While clinical trials provide the basis for current molecular-targeted therapies, plant phytochemicals (also known as: Nutraceuticals) provide an exciting option as an additional means of gene regulation.

Science has identified the following nutraceuticals as having a significant effect in slowing the mechanisms involved in MPM progression. Thus it is imperative, as part of your treatment protocol, that you ensure these substances are a part of your daily diet in the appropriate combinations.

The following section is a list of nutraceuticals that have been shown to directly affect epigenetic regulation and angiogenisis in various cancers.

In order to inhibit DNMTs to maintain tumor suppressor gene function, we must consume the following foods:

Apigenin (Parsley, Thyme), Curcumin (Tumeric, Ginger, Mustard), EGCG (Green Tea, Nutmeg)

Genistein (Soy), Resveratrol (Red Wine, Grape Skins), Sulforaphane (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages)

In order to inhibit HDACs to maintain tumor suppressor gene function, we must consume these foods:

Allyl Mercaptan(Garlic), Curcumin (Tumeric, Ginger, Mustard), Genistein (Soy) Sulforaphane (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages)

In order to activate HATs to reactivate tumor suppressors, we must regularly consume these foods:

Curcumin (Tumeric, Ginger, Mustard), EGCG (Green Tea, Nutmeg), Genistein (Soy)

In order to inhibit VEGFs to prevent further angiogenesis, we must ensure that these substances are a part of our daily diet:

Curcumin (Tumeric, Ginger, Mustard), EGCG (Green Tea, Nutmeg), 6-Gingerol (Ginger)

In Conclusion:

There are many molecular pathways and genes involved in MPM. Above we have explored just a few. However, including a daily diet of the nutraceuticals listed above will go a long way to improve your statistical chances for remission and disease prevention, as these nutraceuticals are revealing themselves to be significant in the treatment and prevention of many forms of cancer.

Given the success of current clinical trials being conducted using molecular-targeted therapies this is also an important avenue to consider as an adjunct to standard treatment. Many clinical trials can be accessed from your home town through your current treatment specialist after a brief registration and testing process.

It is essential that you talk to your doctor before considering any changes to your diet as these nutraceuticals, while typically enhancing of any standard therapy, can interfere with prescription drugs.

If you would like more information on the use of nutraceuticals to enhance your life-expectancy or to have a personalized nutraceutical diet prepared for you, we welcome you to contact us @ [email protected] We are also happy to arrange to consult with your treatment team to share the most current information on enhanced treatment options and clinical trial access with them.

Patient Resources:

The Mesothelioma Center – The web based resource also provides free support services for patients and families world-wide. For additional information please visit www.asbestos.com or call (800) 615-2270.

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The Benefits of Having a Mesothelioma Lawyer

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When you have mesothelioma, you may feel too stressed out with so many things that must be done. You will need to settle your schedules for chemotherapy, surgery, and other treatments so that you can cope up with your disease. Also, this may even be the cause of your slow recovery since your mind is into too many things. You will also have to take care of the finances and there may even be more legal problems. Since you are sick, you cannot work thus the financial problems gets even worse. However, you should remember that you can get some money from the group or company that caused your sickness. You can get a mesothelioma lawyer to help you out with your case.

Since you are already preoccupied with so many things, you may really need the help and expertise of a mesothelioma lawyer. For one, you may not have the sufficient knowledge to make your claim strong that can lead you to get enough financial support against a company. Additionally, taking care of the financial aspects of your problem would just lessen your time for treatment and it would make your recovery slower. Thus, there is a need for a mesothelioma lawyer so that you will already have someone else to take care of the legal aspects. You don’t really know this part so it would be better if you can give it to someone who has the right training and knowledge to handle such.

If you are already decided that you will hire a mesothelioma lawyer to help you out with your case, you need to carefully search for the right kind of lawyer. Your choice can have a big impact on how your case will end up so make sure that your mesothelioma lawyer is good enough to make your claim strong. You will need financial help to recover from your disease and you have to do this so that you will get help from the company that have caused you the disease mesothelioma. Your lawyer would have to prove that the company is liable for your sickness and that is the reason why they should give you financial help. Thus, it is a delicate matter when you are on the stage of finding and deciding for the mesothelioma lawyer that would be hired.

There are many mesothelioma lawyers that can give you their service. Each person may give you their edge over the other. What you must do is be careful in selecting the mesothelioma lawyer and consider the person that has the best qualification. The experience would matter and the individual will also have to be dedicated to your case. This way, you can be assured that he has the needed knowledge to make your case win. Also, your mesothelioma lawyer will also be the one that you will confide with for the duration of the case so you better make sure that you can be comfortable talking with your mesothelioma lawyer before hiring him.

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When Is a Retailer Liable for Selling a Defective Product?

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When a product is defective, there are several parties that may be liable for damages as part of a product liability claim. These parties are all links in the distribution chain that take products from the designer and manufacturer to the consumer’s hands. In some cases, the retailer selling the product can be liable for their part in a consumer’s injuries. Although the retailer did not make the defective product, they can still play a role in sustained injuries that assigns liability.

Manufacturer’s Role in Defective Product Liability

When consumers are injured by a defective retail product, product liability laws allow them to recover damages from parties associated with that product. It is usually the manufacturer who is first held liable for a defective product’s injury of the consumer and other damages.

In many of these cases, the consumer does not need to prove that the manufacturer is negligent, only that the product had defects. The consumer also needs to show that they used it according to how it was intended and designed to be used. Finally, they must show that using it properly caused their injuries.

The manufacturer is not where all of the liability for that defective product ends. Retailers may also be liable.

Retailer’s Role in Defective Product Liability

It is a responsibility of a retailer to ensure that what they sell to the public is safe and will not injure consumers. But a retailer may argue that design and manufacturing defects are the manufacturer’s responsibility and they had no way of knowing that the product could cause their customers harm.

But retailers must exercise caution in selling products, ensuring what they stock is safe for use. They are also responsible for conforming to a recall, if one includes products they sell. Due to these responsibilities, they may be liable if they sell a product that causes injury to the purchaser or anyone else who did not buy the product.

When you are injured by a product, you may hold a retailer or third-party liable even if you were not the one using the product. A good example of this is an auto accident. If the driver who caused the wreck was operating a defective vehicle, you can submit a legal claim against the manufacturer, just as the vehicle’s driver may do the same. In such cases of a defective product, an attorney can clarify who may be liable for your injuries or other damages.

Negligence and Liability of a Retailer or Store

Sometimes retailers act with negligence. This means that they knowingly sell a product that they are aware, or should be aware of, is defective. A good example of this is when a retailer does not participate in a recall as they should. When the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalls a consumer product due to defective design, manufacturing or other issues, the retailer is responsible for ensuring their customers are safe from that defective product and do not purchase it after the recall has been issued. If a retailer continues to sell the item, that retailer is likely negligent in not removing the product from its inventory or store.

As part of some recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may require retailers to inform customers who bought the defective product from them about the recall. The retailer may need to educate customers regarding the steps needed to repair the item or replace it. By not doing so, the retailer is likely negligent.

If a recalled product causes you injury or other damages, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for advice regarding how to handle your claim.

Product Liability and Personal Injury Lawyers

Product liability and personal injury lawyers help protect consumers from defective products by holding liable and negligent parties responsible for injuries and damages. These types of legal claims do not just benefit the customer who was harmed by the product. These cases actually often lead to product recalls that can save millions of people from being harmed in the same way, using the same item. When consumers hold retailers and manufacturers accountable for the damages their products cause, everyone in the distribution chain becomes more aware of how integrity and product safety are of the ultimate importance in their industry.

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Rhode Island RI Personal Injury Law FAQS – Automobile – Car Accident – Damages – Pain & Suffering

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1) If I am injured in an automobile accident, what do I do?

Make sure you stop at the scene of the car accident and notify the police department immediately about the accident. If possible, please get all of the information about the other parties involved in the accident, including their name, address, telephone number and insurance information. Make sure you receive treatment for your injuries with a medical provider as soon as possible.

At the time of the accident, please get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. If you have a camera or a cell phone with a camera, please take pictures of your automobile, the other automobile and the scene of the accident. If you have any bruises or physical conditions that are noticeable, please take pictures of the physical condition as soon as possible. Please do not give any statement to the insurance adjuster until you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney.

2) How do I determine how much money I am entitled to as a result of the accident?

In order to determine the value of the case, the attorneys must look at a combination of factors, including lost wages, pain and suffering, permanency of the injury, any scarring or disfigurement, loss of consortium, periods of disability, etc. Determining the value of a case is an art rather than a science. The amount of the medical bills incurred will be one important factor in determining the value of the case.

3) Does Rhode Island have a statute of limitations for personal injury cases?

There is a three year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for negligence in Rhode Island. If you do not file a lawsuit within three years from the date of the accident, you will be forever barred from filing a claim as a result of the accident. In the event that the claim is for personal injuries against a city or a town, there are very strict notice requirements.

4) What if I am injured and the other party is at fault but has no insurance?

You have the legal right to file a claim against the person or corporation whose negligence caused your injury. However, in many cases the negligent party does not have the assets or funds to be able to pay your damages. So long as you have uninsured or under-insured motorist protection, you will be able to file a claim against your own insurance company for uninsured or under-insured claims.

5) How do I recover if I am hit by a hit and run motorist?

If you have uninsured motorist protection with your own insurance carrier, you may be entitled to make a claim against your own insurance carrier.

Rhode Island Attorneys legal Notice per RI Rules of Professional Responsibility:

The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer/ attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.

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Advantages of the Cyprus Economic Zone For Russian Companies

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Nicosia, 27 June 2008 – Cyprus is one of the most advantageous places of residency for Russian and Ukrainian companies. It offers a high level of banking, auditing, accounting and legal services, as well as its real estates, which developed Cyprus into a successful international business and financial centre.

Some of the main factors and advantages which secure Cyprus ‘ attractiveness to international businesses and investments are the following:

1. 10% corporate tax rate for business profits;

2. No withholding taxes imposed on dividends, interest and royalties for non-residents (whether a company or an individual);

3. Income from dividends is exempt from income or corporation tax;

4. The attractive platform and tax regime that Cyprus provides for a holding company (i.e. subject to certain conditions full exemption from local taxation in respect of dividends received by a holding company from its local and foreign subsidiaries);

5. The attractive platform and tax regime that Cyprus provides for international trusts;

6. The network of favorable double taxation treaties that Cyprus maintains with more than 40 countries including Russia and most of the ex Soviet Union Republics;

7. Tax advantages available to non-residents including non – E.U. residents;

8. Cypriot tax regime permits losses to be carried forward indefinitely;

9. The geographic location of Cyprus, located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa;

One of the mentioned above factors is a double taxation treaty between Russia and Cyprus, which provides to Russians many tax advantages. Agreement was signed between Russia and Cyprus for the avoidance of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and capital, back on 17 August 1999. The treaty provides for either the exemption of income in the source country or the provision of tax credit in respect of the foreign tax paid by the country of tax residence.

Usually, Russian companies would pay 35 percent tax on profits, plus a 20 percent VAT tax, and a 40 percent tax for social security and employee benefits, in Russia. However, when Russian business is structured in a way that a Cyprus company owns it (which does not require any physical presence in Russia), all its profits will be legally transferred to Cyprus and is liable for only a 4.5 percent tax on profits and a 15 percent VAT tax. Russian business escapes the 40 percent tax for social services, accordingly. This tax advantage makes it possible to channel profits in the form of dividends at a reduced rate.

As for example, a Cyprus Holding company can be used for international investment purposes. Basically, it is use of the tax incentives and the treaties for the avoidance of double taxation. The most important advantage of a Cyprus Holding Company is that the dividends received by the foreign company can flow totally tax free in Cyprus through the Holding Company, avoiding in this way the payment of any tax on dividends. Furthermore, payments made to non-Cyprus Resident Shareholders there is zero (0) withholding tax, so the Shareholder receives the dividends absolutely tax free.

Payment of interest on loans is another advantageous method for Russian businesses. Under the Cyprus Law, Russian Company partly owned by Cypriot Company and paying its interest on loans to the Cypriot company, effectively minimizing its taxation. However, the interest payments are not necessarily will be paid to the Cyprus Company. It is the most effective method which allows Russian company to avoid almost all its tax payments.

Russian businesses which structured into a Cypriot companies for maintaining its business activities within territory of Russia, are able to transfer there revenue earned in Russia abroad in the form of dividends and interest, at considerable tax savings. Companies registered in Cyprus jurisdiction pay lower taxes than those paid in Russian jurisdictions.

All the above mentioned structures are based on “Cyprus economic zone” of reduced taxation and perfectly legal, furthermore its tax advantage may be enhanced even more when, under certain circumstances, is combined with other jurisdictions in appropriate legal structures.

In the last 30 years, Cyprus Law Firm has developed into a reputable international business and financial centre due to the very favorable tax regime that the island offers. The admission of Cyprus to the European Union as full member in May 2004, established Cyprus as a prestigious, stable and attractive jurisdiction.

Though the offshore company status was abolished as from January 1, 2003 the favorable tax regime for the international investor has been maintained. In addition, the liberalization of investments coming from non-EU countries and the abolition of maximum and minimum participation percentages in investments in all the sectors of the economy in October 2004 (unless it is otherwise provided by the Law), has transformed Cyprus into a major destination for the location of international, holding companies and worldwide investments.

Contact:

Olga Kosareva, NCI Law Group

[email protected]

T: +357-22-680670

Author: Ioannis John Neocleous

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International Law And The Right To A Healthy Environment As A Jus Cogens Human Right

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I. JURISPRUDENTIAL BACKGROUND AND THEORETICAL ISSUES

To date, traditional international law does not consider human environmental rights to a clean and healthy environment to be a jus cogens human right. Jus cogens (“compelling law”) refers to preemptory legal principles and norms that are binding on all international States, regardless of their consent. They are non-derogable in the sense that States cannot make a reservation to a treaty or make domestic or international laws that are in conflict with any international agreement that they have ratified and thus to which they are a party. They “prevail over and invalidate international agreements and other rules of international law in conflict with them… [and are] subject to modification only by a subsequent norm… having the same character.” (1) Thus, they are the axiomatic and universally accepted legal norms that bind all nations under jus gentium (law of nations). For example, some U.N. Charter provisions and conventions against slavery or torture are considered jus cogens rules of international law that are nonderogable by parties to any international convention.

While the international legal system has evolved to embrace and even codify basic, non-derogable human rights (2), the evolution of environmental legal regimes have not advanced as far. While the former have found a place at the highest level of universally recognized legal rights, the latter have only recently and over much opposition, reached a modest level of recognition as a legally regulated activity within the economics and politics of sustainable development.

1. The international legal community recognizes the same sources of international law as does the United States’ legal system. The three sources of international law are stated and defined in the Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (R3dFRLUS), Section 102. The first source is Customary International Law (CIL), defined as the “general and consistent practice of states followed out of a sense of legal obligation” (3) (opinio juris sive necessitatus), rather than out of moral obligation. Furthermore, CIL is violated whenever a State, “as a matter of state policy,… practices, encourages or condones (a) genocide, (b) slavery… (c) the murder or causing the disappearance of individuals, (d) torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment… or (g) a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” (4) To what extent such human rights need to be “internationally recognized” is not clear, but surely a majority of the world’s nations must recognize such rights before a “consistent pattern of gross violations” results in a violation of CIL. CIL is analogous to “course of dealing” or “usage of trade” in the domestic commercial legal system.

Evidence of CIL includes “constitutional, legislative, and executive promulgations of states, proclamations, judicial decisions, arbitral awards, writings of specialists on international law, international agreements, and resolutions and recommendations of international conferences and organizations.” (5) It follows that such evidence is sufficient to make “internationally recognized human rights” protected under universally recognized international law. Thus, CIL can be created by the general proliferation of the legal acknowledgment (opinio juris) and actions of States of what exactly constitutes “internationally recognized human rights.”

2. The next level of binding international law is that of international agreements (treaties), or Conventional International Law. Just as jus cogens rights and rules of law, as well as CIL, are primary and universally binding legal precepts, so do international treaties form binding international law for the Party Members that have ratified that treaty. The same way that some States’ domestic constitutional law declares the basic human rights of each State’s citizens, so do international treaties create binding law regarding the rights delineated therein, according to the customary international jus gentium principle of pacta sunt servanda (agreements are to be respected). Treaties are in turn internalized by the domestic legal system as a matter of law. Thus, for example, the U.N Charter’s provision against the use of force is binding international law on all States and it, in turn, is binding law in the United States, for example, and on its citizens. (6) Treaties are analogous to “contracts” in the domestic legal system.

Evidence of Conventional International Law includes treaties, of course, as well as related material, interpreted under the usual canons of construction of relying on the text itself and the words’ ordinary meanings. (7) Often, conventional law has to be interpreted within the context of CIL. (8) As a practical matter, treaties are often modified by amendments, protocols and (usually technical) annexes. Mechanisms exist for “circumventing strict application of consent” by the party states. Generally, these mechanisms include “framework or umbrella conventions that merely state general obligations and establish the machinery for further norm-formulating devices… individual protocols establishing particular substantive obligations… [and] technical annexes.” (9) Most of these new instruments “do no require ratification but enter into force in some simplified way.” (10) For example, they may require only signatures, or they enter into force for all original parties when a minimum number of States ratify the modification or unless a minimum number of States object within a certain time frame, or goes into force for all except those that object. (11) Depending on the treaty itself, once basic consensus is reached, it is not necessary for all to consent to certain modifications for them to go into effect. “[I]n a sense these are instances of an IGO [(international governmental organization)] organ ‘legislating’ directly for [S]tates.” (12)

3. Finally, rules of international law are also derived from universal General Principles of Law “common to the major legal systems of the world.” (13) These “general principles of law” are principles of law as such, not of international law per se. While many consider these general principles to be a secondary source of international law that “may be invoked as supplementary rules… where appropriate” (14), some consider them on an “footing of formal equality with the two positivist elements of custom and treaty”. (15) Examples are the principles of res judicata, equity, justice, and estoppel. Frequently, these rules are inferred by “analogy to domestic law concerning rules of procedure, evidence and jurisdiction.” (16) However, “while shared concepts of of internal law can be used as a fall-back, there are sever limits because of the characteristic differences between international law and internal law.” (17) Evidence of General Principles of Law includes “municipal laws, doctrine and judicial decisions.” (18)

Treaty provisions and their inherent obligations can create binding CIL if they are “of a fundamentally norm-creating character such as could be regarded as forming the basis of a general rule of law.” (19) A basic premise of this article is that the “relatively exclusive ways (of lawmaking) of the past are not suitable for contemporary circumstances.” (20) Jonathan Charney maintains that today’s CIL is more and more being created by consensual multilateral forums, as opposed to State practice and opinio juris, and that “[consensus, defined as the lack of expressed objections to the rule by any participant, may often be sufficient… In theory, one clearly phrased and strongly endorsed declaration at a near-universal diplomatic forum could be sufficient to establish new international law.” (21) This process should be distinguished conceptually as “general international law”, rather than CIL, as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has often done.

In like vein, Professor Gunther Handl argues that all multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) of “global applicability” create “general international law”:

“A multilateral treaty that addresses fundamental concerns of the international community at large, and that as such is strongly supported by the vast majority of states, by international organizations and other transnational actors,– and this is, of course, precisely the case with the biodiversity, climate, and ozone regimes, among others-may indeed create expectations of general compliance, in short such a treaty may come to be seen as reflecting legal standards of general applicability… and as such must be deemed capable of creating rights and obligations both for third states and third organizations.” (22)

Notwithstanding, Daniel Bodansky argues that CIL is so rarely supported by State action, that it is not customary law at all. “International environmental norms reflect not how states regularly behave, but how states speak to each other.” (23) Calling such law “declarative law” that is part of a “myth system” representing the collective ideals and the “verbal practice” of States, he concludes that “our time and efforts would be better spent attempting to translate the general norms of international environmental relations into concrete treaties and actions.” (24)

However, a review of the current status of international human rights and environmental law may reveal the mechanisms for raising environmental rights to the level of jus cogens rights. For example, the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), whose negotiation was initiated in 1972 and signed in 1982, was considered by most countries to be CIL by the time it came into force in 1994. (25)

II. CURRENT STATUS OF THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT No State today will publicly state that it is within its sovereign rights to damage their domestic environment, much less that of the international community, however most States do not guarantee environmental protection as a basic human right. Currently, environmental law is composed of mostly Conventional International Law and some CIL. The former relies on express consent and the latter on implied consent, unless a State avails itself of the Persistent Objector principle, which precludes it from being bound by even most CIL. Unlike for human rights and international crimes, there is no general environmental rights court in existence today. While the Law of the Sea Tribunal and other U.N. forums (e.g., the ICJ) exist for trying cases of treaty violations, non-treaty specific violations have no international venue at present. Italian Supreme Court Justice Amedeo Postiglione states that

“[T]he human right to the environment, must have, at the international level, a specific organ of protection for a fundamental legal and political reason: the environment is not a right of States but of individuals and cannot be effectively protected by the International Court of Justice in the Hague because the predominantly economic interests of the States and existing institutions are often at loggerheads with the human right to the environment.” (26)

Domestic remedies would have to be pursued first, of course, but standing would be granted to NGOs, individuals, and States when such remedies proved futile or “the dispute raises issues of international importance.” (27) For example, although the ICJ has an “environmental chamber” and U.S. courts often appoint “special masters” to handle these types of disputes, it is clear that the recognition of the human right to the environment needs an international court of its own in order to recognize such a right and remedy international violations in an efficient and equitable manner. (28)

III. THE JUS COGENS NATURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL RIGHTS Irrespective of specific treaty obligations and domestic environmental legislation, do States, or the international community as a whole, have a duty to take measures to prevent and safeguard against environmental hazards?

Human rights are “claims of entitlement” that arise “as of right” (31) and are independent of external justification; they are “self evident” and fundamental to any human being living a dignified, healthy and productive and rewarding life. As Louis Henkin points out:

“Human rights are not some abstract, inchoate ‘good’; they are defined, particular claims listed in international instruments such as the [U.N.’s] Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the major covenants and conventions. They are those benefits deemed essential for individual well-being [sic], dignity, and fulfillment, and that reflect a common sense of justice, fairness, and decency. [No longer are human rights regarded as grounded in or justified by utilitarianism,] natural law,… social contract, or any other political theory…[but] are derived from accepted principles, or are required by accepted ends-societal ends such as peace and justice; individual ends such as human dignity, happiness, fulfillment. [Like the fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, these rights are] inalienable and imprescriptible; they cannot be transferred, forfeited, or waived; they cannot be lost by having been usurped, or by one’s failure to exercise or assert them.” (32)

Henkin distinguishes between “immunity claims” (such as ‘the State cannot do X to me’; the hallmark of the U.S. constitutional jurisprudential system) and “resource claims” (such as ‘I have a right to Y’) such that the individual has the right to, for example, free speech, “food, housing, and other basic human needs.” (33) In today’s “global village”, the Right to a Healthy Environment is clearly a “resource claim” and a basic human need that transcends national boundaries.

According to R.G. Ramcharan, there is “a strict duty… to take effective measures” by States and the international community as a whole to protect the environment from the potential hazards of economic development. (34) His position is that the Human Right to Life is a. jus cogens, non-derogable peremptory norm that by its very nature includes the right to a clean environment. This duty is clearly spelled out in such multilateral treaties as the UN Convention on Desertification, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity. (35) It is expounded in the Stockholm, Rio and Copenhagen Declarations as a core component of the principle of Sustainable Development. It forms the basis of NAFTA’s, the WTO’s and the European Union’s economic development agreements, and the European Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been ratified by most countries in the world, including the United States.

The Human Right to a Healthy Environment is explicitly contained in the Inter-American and African Charters, as well as in the constitution of over 50 countries worldwide. Whether it is based on treaties, CIL, or “basic principles”, the obligation of the international community to the environment is today clearly spelled out and enforceable through international tribunals. For example, the Lhaka Honhat Amid Curiae Brief recognized the rights of the indigenous peoples of Argentina to “an environment that supports physical and spiritual well being and development.” (36) Similarly, in a separate decision, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission upheld the right of the Yanomani in Brazil to a healthy and clean environment. (37) On a global level, the UN Human Rights Committee has indicated that environmental damage is “a violation of the right to life contained in Article 6(1) of the [ICCPR]”. (38)

Thus, today, the erga omnes obligation of States to take effective steps to safeguard the environment is a duty that no State can shirk or ignore. If it does, it runs the risk of prosecution by international courts and having to institute measures commensurate with its responsibility to protect its share of the “global commons”. Interestingly, the concept of jus cogens emerged after World War II as a response to the commonly held view that the sovereignty of States excused them from violating any of the then so-called CILs. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “there is a close connection between jus cogens and the recognition of a ‘public order of the international community’… Without expressly using the notion of jus cogens, the [ICJ] implied its existence when it referred to obligations erga omnes in its judgment… in the Barcelona Traction Case.” (39)

IV. THIRD GENERATION HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT Is environmental protection is an erga omnes obligation, that is, one owed to the international community as a whole as a jus cogens human right?

In a separate opinion to the Case Concerning the Gebecikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungary v. Slovakia), Judge Weeramantry, the Vice President of the ICJ, expounded on the legal basis for sustainable development as a general principle of international law. In the process, he concludes that environmental protection is a universal erga omnes legal norm that is both CIL as well as a general principle of law per se. In Gebecikovo, ostensibly to have been decided upon the merits of the treaty governing the building of power plants along the Danube, as well as by international customary law, the ICJ held that the right to development must be balanced with the right to environmental protection by the principle of sustainable development. Even in the absence of a specific treaty provision, the concept of sustainable development has become a legal principle that is “an integral principle of modem international law”. (40)

Sustainable development is also recognized in State practice, such as the Dublin Declaration by the European Council on the Environmental Imperative. (41) As such, sustainable development has in effect been raised to the level of CIL.

For example, the Martens Clause of the 1899 Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land has been interpreted in 1996 by Judge Shahabudeen of the ICJ as providing a legal basis for inferring that general principles rise above custom and treaty, having their basis in “principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience”. (42) According to Weeramantry, “when a duty such as the duty to protect the environment is so well accepted that all citizens act upon it, that duty is part of the legal system in question… as general principles of law recognized by civilized of nations.” (43)

Sustainable development acts as a reconciling principle between economic development and environmental protection. Just as economic development is an inalienable right of States’ self-determination, environmental protection is an erga omnes obligation of all States for the benefit of the global commons that all share. “The principle of sustainable development is thus a part of modern international law by reason not only of its inescapable logical necessity, but also by reason of its wide and general acceptance by the global community”, and not just by developing countries. (44)

Drawing upon the rich history of diverse cultures’ legal systems and what he calls “living law”, Judge Weeramantry points out that traditional respect for nature has been a guiding moral and legal principle for economic development throughout history. The ICJ has also recognized these principles in such previous decisions as Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Ltd. (Belgium v. Spain) in 1972. (45) Judge Weeramantry concludes that the “ingrained values of any civilization are the source from which its legal concepts derive… [and that environmental protection is] among those pristine and universal values which command international recognition.” (46)

The first generation of Human Rights were those declared by the “soft law” of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to life liberty and security of person.” Art. 3. It was modeled on the U.S. Bill of Rights and the American Declaration of Independence. This was echoed in the binding ICCPR (“Every human being has the inherent right to life.”, ICCPR, Art. 6(1) (1966)), which the U.S. has ratified, and the American Convention on Political and Civil Rights of the Inter-American System (which draws direct connections between human rights and environmental rights).

The second generation of human rights emerged with the Economic, Social and Cultural (ECOSOC) Rights developed in such treaties as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR; which the U.S. has not ratified), and many foreign State’s Constitutions (e.g., Germany, Mexico, and Costa Rica). These include the right to free choice of work, to (usually free) education, to rest, leisure, etc. Highly complied with in Europe, these rights have additionally been expanded by the EU in their European Social Charter (1961) creating much legislation for the protection of workers, women, and children.

The third and current generation of human rights has emerged from the Eco-Peace-Feminist Movement. These include the Right to Development, the Right to A Safe Environment and the Right to Peace. In essence, this third generation of rights addresses the problem of poverty as a social (and hence legally redressable) ill that lies at the core of environmental problems and violations. The “environmental justice” movement considers cases that demonstrate that environmental pollution is disproportionately prevalent in minority communities, whether at a local or international level. Authors John Cronin & Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., have explicitly entitled their study of environmental pollution along the Hudson River The Riverkeepers: Two Activists Fight to Reclaim Our Environment as a Basic Human Right. (47) This predominantly U.S. movement focuses on “environmental racism” as a means for seeking remedies or the disproportionate pollution of minority communities as violations of current civil rights legislation by “exploring] the use of the nations’ environmental laws to protect the rights of the poor.” (48)

V. RECOGNITION, COMMITMENT AND ENFORCEMENT OF A RIGHT: THE MONTREAL PROTOCOL AS A MODEL FOR CONSENSUS BUILDING The key mechanisms for establishing binding international law are recognition of an obligation or right, commitment to its protection, and effective enforcement methods. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is the “most important precedent in international law for the management of global environmental harms.” (49) It serves as a model for many other environmental concerns that require decision-making in the face of scientific uncertainty, global non-consensus, and high harm-avoidance costs. It was the first international “precautionary” treaty to address a global environmental concern when not even “measurable evidence of environmental damage existed.” (50) Although ozone depletion by chloro-fluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone depleting substances (ODSs), and the attendant harms of overexposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation, had been suspected by scientists in the early 1970s, it was not until 1985 and the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer that international action was taken to address the problem.

THE VIENNA CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE OZONE LAYER At the time of the Vienna Convention, the U.S. represented over 50% of the global consumption of CFCs in a $3 billion market for aerosol propellants alone. Overall, CFC products represented a $20 billion market and about a quarter of a million jobs in America alone. (51) The Clean Air Amendments of 1977 and the 1978 EPA ban on all “non-essential” uses of CFC in aerosol propellants was quickly followed internationally by similar bans by Sweden, Canada and Norway. (52) These actions were a direct response to consumer pressure and market demands by newly environmentally-conscious consumers.(53) Incentives were also provided to the developing countries so that they could “ramp up” at reasonable levels of reductions. (54)

Creative ratification incentives included requiring only 11 of the top two-thirds of CFC producing countries to ratify and bring the treaty into force. (55) As a result of such flexibility, innovation, consensus and cooperation, the Montreal Protocol has been hailed as a major success in international diplomacy and international environmental law. Today almost every nation in the world is a member (over 175 States).

THE LONDON ADJUSTMENTS AND AMENDMENTS OF 1990 By 1990 scientific confirmation of global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer led to the London Adjustments and Amendments. Again, U.S. companies such as Dupont, IBM and Motorola reacted to massive negative media attention and promised to halt complete production by 2000.

Non-compliance procedures were made even more user friendly and no sanction for non-compliance was initiated against a country that was failing to reach quotas while acting in good faith. Technology transfer was made in a “fair and favorable way”, with developed countries taking the lead in assisting developing countries reach compliance. (56) The U.S. instituted “ozone depletion taxes” which did much to get more comprehensive compliance, as well as promoting research into CFC alternatives. (57) To emphasize the vast enforcement mechanisms employed, consider that by early 1998 the U.S. Justice Department had prosecuted 62 individuals and 7 corporations for the illegal smuggling into the emergent CFC black markets. Despite an international crackdown by the FBI, EPA, CIA, and Interpol in the global police effort Operation Breeze, 5 to 10 thousand tons are smuggled annually into Miami alone, second only to cocaine smuggling. (58) In 1992 the Copenhagen Amendments required every State party (practically the whole world) to institute “procedures and institutional mechanisms” to determine non-compliance and enforcement. (59)

VI. CONCLUSION: CRITICAL WEAKNESS OF THE CURRENT SYSTEM AND THE LEGAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT AS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT

The critical weaknesses of the existing system include self-serving pronouncements by non-complying States, lack of effective enforcement mechanisms, political limitations such as State sovereignty and the “margin of appreciation”, and the lack of universal consensus on basic human rights terminology and their enforcement. As long as States can ignore commonplace violations of human rights (sporadic instances of torture, occasional “disappearances”) and shun the edicts of human rights judicial decisions, there can be no effective system of international human rights enforcement. Currently, unless a State commits such outrageous acts on a mass scale that affects world peace, such as in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, it can often evade its responsibilities under international human rights treaties.

There are few international agreements that admit of universal jurisdiction for their violation by any State in the world. All CIL, however, is by its very nature prosecutable under universal jurisdiction. “Crimes against humanity” (e.g., War Crimes, genocide, and State-supported torture) are universally held to be under universal jurisdiction, typically in the International Court of Justice, ad hoc war crime tribunals, and the new International Criminal Court.

While interpretive gaps exist, it is not inconceivable that the right to a healthy environment can be extrapolated from current international environmental treaties and CIL. At the treaty level, the protection of the environment appears to be of paramount importance to the international community. At the level of CIL, there is much evidence that the right to a healthy environment is already an internationally protected right, at least as far as trans-boundary pollution is concerned. In any case, it seems to be universally held that it should be protected as a right. The impression is that there is an unmistakable consensus in this regard. “Soft law” over time becomes CIL.

The U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development released the Earth Charter in 1987. It has yet to be fully implemented on a global scale. Its broad themes include respect and care for the environment, ecological integrity, social and economic justice and democracy, nonviolence and peace. (60) The argument can be made that by now, protection of the environment has reached the threshold of Customary International Law. Whether the nations of the world choose to thereafter recognize the right to a healthy environment as a jus cogens human right will depend on the near universal consensus and political will of most of the nations of the world. Until then, as long as human life continues to be destroyed by “human rights ratifying” nations, how much enforcement will be employed against violators of environmental laws when the right to a healthy environment is not upheld as a basic human right remains to be seen. It will take the cooperation of all nations to ensure that this becomes a non-derogable, unalienable right and recognizing it as essential to the Right to Life.

1. Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States, § 102 cmt. k (1987).

The elements can also be found in the Vienna Convention, Article 53.

2. For example, the Right to Life, to be Free from Torture, Genocide, and Murder.

3. R(3d)FRLUS § 102(l)(a) and cmt. h.

4. Id., § 702 (my emphasis).

5. Mark W. Janis, An Introduction to International Law 6 (3d. ed, Aspen Law & Business 1999).

6. R3dFRLUS § 102(2).

7. Janis, supra.

8. David Hunter, et al., International Environmental Law and Policy, p. 306 (2d. ed., Foundation Press 2002).

9. Paul Szasz, International Norm Making, in Edith Brown Weiss, Ed., ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (1995), as quoted in Id, p. 307.

10. Id.

11. Id.

12. Id.

13. R3dFRLUS § 102(l)(c), as presented in Donoho, supra.

14. Supra, R3dFRLUS §102(4).

15. Shabtai Rosenne, Practice and Methods of International Law 69 (1984), as quoted in Hunter, Id, p. 317.

16. Hunter, supra, p. 316 (Foundation Press 2002).

17. Id, p. 316.

18. Janis, supra, p. 29.

19. Id, p. 312.

20. Jonathan Charney, Universal International Law, 87 Am.J.Int’l.L. 529, at 543-48 (1993), as quoted in Hunter, supra, p. 322.

21. Id.

22. Gunther Handl, The Legal Mandate of Multilateral Development Banks as Agents for Change Toward Sustainable Development, 92 Am.J.Int’l.L. 642, at 660-62 (1998), as quoted in Hunter, supra, p. 324.

23. Daniel Bodansky, Customary (and Not So Customary) International Environmental Law, 3 Ind. J. Global Legal Stud. 105, 110-119 (1995), as quoted in Hunter, Id.

24. Id.

25. Id, p. 659.

26. Amedeo Postiglione, The Global Environmental Crisis: The Need for and International Court of the Environment, ICEF INTERNATIONAL REPORT at 33-36 (1996), quoted in Hunter, supra, p. 495.

27. Id., p. 496.

28. Id.

29. Id, p. 1298.

30. Id, p. 1299.

31. L. Henkin, “The Human Rights Idea”, The Age of Rights (reprinted in Henkin, et al., Human Rights, 1999), as presented in Donoho, supra, p. 14-16.

32. Id.

33. Id.

34. The Right to Life, p. 310 (The Hague, 1983), quoted in Hunter, supra, p. 1297.

35. Hunter, supra, p. 341.

36. Id, p. 1299.

37. Id, p. 1294.

38. Id, p. 1295.

39. Black’s Law Dictionary, p. 864. (West 1999).

40. Hunter, supra, p. 339-341.

41. Id, footnotes 1 through 6, pp. 341-342.

42. Id, pp. 317-318.

43. Id, p. 345.

44. Id, p. 342.

45. Id, p. 315.

46. Id, p. 344.

47. In particular, see pages 35, 38, 159, 162, 177-199 and 221 (Scribner 1997).

48. New York Law Journal, January 1993, Friday, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, p. 3. See also, DISCUSSION: REFLECTIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE, 65 Alb. L. Rev. 357, 2001.

49. Hunter, supra, p. 526.

50. Id, p. 527, quoting Richard Benedick, Ozone Diplomacy 2 (1998)

51. Id, p. 532.

52. Id, p. 535.

53. Id, p. 542.

54. Id, p. 545.

55. Id.

56. Id, p. 550-54.

57. Id, p. 562.

58. Id, p. 559.

59. Id, p. 566-67.

60. Roland Huber, International Environmental Law Seminar: Human Rights and the Environment, p. 24, in Donoho, Douglas L., INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS (printed by the Shepard Brad Law Center, Nova Southeastern University, 2002).

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Choosing The Right LED Or Reflective Film Enabled Traffic Signs

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We must all have seen many traffic signs on the roads when we commute to work every day. These signs include directions, warnings, alerts, caution about danger zones and just about every other information that will let you know if you can travel in that route or not. When you want to buy traffic signs for your property or commercial/residential establishment, you have to watch out for a lot of things. The first one would be visibility. What purpose would it fulfil if you install a traffic sign that cannot be read by all? Next, you need to decide on the materials that will make your sign look brighter. LED bulbs, with their great energy saving capacity and high efficiency, are one of the first choices of owners these days. You could also print your traffic signs on huge reflective films and get them stuck on hoardings in key areas. Here are a few points that you need to keep in mind when you choose these traffic signs.

Reflective films

When you are looking for a perfect traffic sign printing solution, you need to be clear on the answers to the following concepts:

a. How do you plan to use your traffic signs and would you like to specialise in a core traffic-regulated market? Are you looking to print only traffic signs or other things as well?

b. What should would you like your sign to be printed on? Do you want a mix of printing that will enable printing on sheets and rolls or do you want only one of those?

c. What kind of reflective film would you need to print your sign on? How much of ink adhesion are you looking at?

LED Signs

LED Traffic Signs are quite powerful and are very durable as well. These signs have great visibility and can be used to denote various alerts for road users. If you are looking for a LED-powered traffic signboard, you need to be aware of the following concepts:

a. How many LEDs are required in a sign? You should know that when you use more LEDs, the number of pixels in your sign goes up and increases the visibility of your sign from a long distance. When you choose lesser number of LEDs for your signs, they become weak and non-comprehendible.

b. From how far would the signs be viewed by the road users? This is an important point to remember because, if your signs are located close to the traffic, they will be viewed from a very close distance. Hence, you don’t have to invest in lots of pixels to make your sign huge and bright.

How much should be the ideal budget for this? LED bulbs consume very little energy and have a long life. This makes them costlier than the other fluorescent bulbs. Therefore, it is highly recommended to spend judiciously and invest on these signs only after clearly assessing the viewing angles, so that you don’t waste money on a sign that could have been in a smaller and cheaper way.

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5 Major Types of Accidents You Can Claim Compensation For

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The myth that you are safe once away from the accident prone zone such as road or industry is proved when even the most innocent looking circumstances become the reason for the unforeseen accidents. Here are the 5 major types of accidents which might lead to claim for a compensation.

Workplace accidents

Accidents well never forewarn you. Workplaces are deceptive places which however seemingly safe, are the locations for maximum number of accidents reported in the UK. Workplace accidents can be simple burns, cuts or lacerations and sometimes even fatal.

It is mandatory that your employer gives you protection against these through employee’s insurance. However, while claiming accident compensation the insurance company will pay you the insurance money along with the damages incurred by you.

Usually personal injuries that are seen in workplace accidents are slip, trip and fall, which might lead to back, neck and head injuries, cuts and lacerations. Repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, vibrations to body parts, etc. are common in ergonomically uncomfortable workplaces.

Road and vehicular accidents

Road accidents while on job are common for those who are in sales or delivery jobs. This causes injuries such as whiplash, neck injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of body parts, loss of hearing, loss of eye sight and in worst cases, death.

In road accidents, it is best to talk to a accident lawyer before making any claim. There might be twists and turns of the laws that you might not be aware of when to comes to road accidents. Since the company is no way involved in this and this seems to have happened away from the factory of office premises, there might be legal implications that you need to clear. Also, talking directly with the insurers without any of this knowledge will only create trouble for you. you might even lose potential chunk of the compensation.

Diseases

Contracting diseases due to workplace chemicals or agents is another serious condition that takes many years to detect and requires high amount of compensation. Most of these cases end up in permanent damage or death. They involve changing of jobs which is very stressful for most people.

Faulty product and machinery

Accidents due to faulty machines and products are less, but not uncommon. People get allergies from products, burns from faulty electronics and many more. The product manufacturer is guilty and can be charged for compensation for the loss. Letting an expert lawyer do this will be of less headache to you.

Sports injury

Most neglected topic is sports injuries. This is not just for the sports stars, but also for aspirants who train hard and meet with accidents that ends up ruining their career in sports. Broken arms, legs, ligament tears all are claimable.

Hire proper accident injury compensation lawyers to win your case claim compensation.

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Increasing Asbestos Awareness And Reducing Exposure Risk With Notifiable Non-Licensable Work

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that there are still some four million properties around the UK, which are likely to contain hidden asbestos materials, and often encountered in a friable ( fragile and disintegrating) condition. Any attempt to remove can result in fibres becoming airborne and inhaled by anyone in close proximity, from home owner or tenant, company employee to public visitors, as well as building and demolition workers.

It is frequently reported that still far too many firms seem to possess little or no asbestos awareness or training to correctly deal with the potential health risks. To minimise time and costs, the health and safety procedures are often simply ignored when existing building materials found to contain asbestos (ACMs) are dismantled and disposed of alongside standard building waste.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, which came into force on the 6th April, updates previous asbestos regulations by implementing EU Directive 2009/148/EC, and targets changes at around three quarters of a million workers in companies involved with non-licensable asbestos work. From now on, the “Non-Licensable” category of asbestos work will be divided into two with an additional category, to be known as “Notifiable Non-Licensable Work” (NNLW).

According to the HSE, ” All non-licensed work is required to be carried out with the appropriate controls in place. Employers will also have an obligation for notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW)”, which means they must:

  • Notify work with asbestos to the relevant enforcing authority.
  • Ensure medical examinations are carried out.
  • Maintain registers of work (health records).

The process involves specifying whether a type of asbestos work is either licensable, NNLW or non-licensed work in each case. To do this, a risk assessment must be carried out first to identify the type of asbestos-containing material (ACM) and an evaluation of its condition.

If the work is exempt from the need for a licence, it must be then determined if it is notifiable non-licensed work or just non-licensed work. The HSE advise that the key factors to consider are based on the type of work planned, whether maintenance, removal, encapsulation, or air monitoring and the collection and analysis of asbestos samples.

Identifying asbestos type is crucial. Although the most toxic forms were banned from use in 1985, white chrysotile asbestos fibres continued to be incorporated into a variety of building materials, including insulation wallboard (AIB), cement roofing, surface coatings and sprayed insulation, tiles and soffits, infill and adhesive tapes, etc. An import ban on chrysotile in 1999 was followed by a full ban in 2005. However, it must be assumed that any property built or renovated at any time until the end of the twentieth century has to be suspected of containing asbestos material.

Asbestos found in a fragile, friable condition is particularly prone to release fibres and is liable to be designated NNLW while work which disturbs the least friable materials e.g. asbestos cement can normally be treated as non-licensed work. Encapsulated asbestos, such as cement, paint or plastic, which are considered to be firmly bonded in a matrix, are more likely to be found in good condition and can usually be treated as non-licensed work.

The ever present risk is the disturbance and breathing in of asbestos fibres. Once ingested they embed in the lung linings and can eventually cause asbestosis disease or form the deadly incurable tumours of mesothelioma cancer.

A long gestation period of between 15 to 50 years is known to elapse before the first asbestosis symptoms appear, by which time, the disease may have spread to adjacent tissues or organs. A patient’s survival rate after a conformed diagnosis can be less than 6 months.

Under the requirements of the NNLW, the HSE requires ” brief written records should be kept of non-licensed work, which has to be notified, e.g. copy of the notification with a list of workers present on-site, plus the level of likely exposure of those workers to asbestos”.

By April 2015, each and every worker who is exposed to asbestos must be under medical “surveillance” every three years. The employer must maintain a register for each worker, which records the type and duration of work carried out with asbestos and is to be retained for at least 40 years along with copies of all medical reports.

The HSE state that ” Workers who are already under health surveillance for licensed work need not have another medical examination for non-licensed work but medicals for notifiable non-licensed work are not acceptable for those doing licensed work”.

With more than 1.8 million people annually exposed each year to asbestos and at least 2,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed annually, the new Regulations are an attempt to reduce disregard for health and safety on property renovations when there is still a potential hazard from exposure to asbestos.

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WSIB – The Importance of Knowing Your Rights If You Have a Asbestos-Related Disease

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Are the rates of asbestos disease increasing in the U.S? The answer is definitely yes.

Asbestos-related diseases are increasing in the United States and in some other countries, and this is because asbestos workers were exposed to this mineral, which is the main risk factor for developing the disease. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) helps you to find out if you are entitled to compensation if you worked and were exposed to asbestos.

This is important, because when you are sick you do not have time to think of your disease causes, since you never thought of being ill with pain and even with so much danger to your health.

In Ontario, Canada, exists a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) that oversees your state’s workplace safety education and training system, provides disability benefits, monitors the quality of health care, and assists in early and safe return to work.

The most exposed workers to the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease are power plant workers, asbestos and talc miners, shipyard workers, auto break mechanics, demolition workers, pipe fitters, insulation workers, boilermakers and workers who make products which contain asbestos, such as firebricks, fire-retardant paint and asbestos cement.

The most common asbestos-related diseases are asbestosis, mesothelioma, benign pleural diseases, pleural plaques and lung cancer.

A cure does not exist for most of the above mentioned diseases, but there are treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, as for other types of cancer pathologies. There are also different ways of prevention the high risk of inhaling asbestos fibers when you work with this material.

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