270698 From Silicon Valley to Samsung: Challenges for workers in electronics manufacturing

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 5:24 PM - 5:42 PM

Miriam Lara , Writer/Researcher, A Wokers' Guide to Health and Safety, Hesperian, Berkeley, CA
During the 80s, the electronics industry in Silicon Valley poisoned the workers, community, and environment surrounding the factories. Multi-stakeholder partnerships and collective action led to new regulations in the US and an exodus of factories to Asia with none. In the last two decades we have seen history repeat itself in those communities, despite innovations in automation and green chemistry. Understanding why workers continue to get sick and identifying exactly where those hazards are and how to eliminate them is an ongoing challenge. In A Workers' Guide to Health and Safety, Hesperian applies its popular health education approach to the electronics industry, deconstructing scientific data on chemicals, radiation, and other work hazards and incorporating workers' knowledge and experience into simple and actionable information. To develop this material, Hesperian worked with partners around the world, including: Korea (SHARPS), China (SACOM, AMRC), Mexico (CEREAL, CFO), Philippines (IOSHAD, WAC), and the US (ICRT). Our investigation demonstrates that there is a clear need to continue developing low-tech, practical tools to help electronics workers understand the substances and processes that harm their health, take action to protect themselves and their communities, and organize to change conditions. Initial results also provide direction for further research on green chemistry and its implementation in the electronic industry. Consumers are becoming aware of the hazards of the industry that produces the devices we rely on, and there is an urgent need for workers and consumers to work together to create a less harmful electronics industry.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Occupational health and safety
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Compare the situation of electronics workers in the US (Silicon Valley) during the 80s and the factors that led to new regulations and improved conditions with the situation of electronics manufacturing workers today in Korea, China, Mexico, Philippines, and other parts of the world; Assess the need for low-tech, practical tools to give workers information about the substances and processes they are working with that will help them take action to protect themselves; Formulate recommendations for ways to educate both workers and consumers on hazards in the electronics manufacturing industry and their solutions.

Keywords: Workplace Safety, Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary writer and researcher on the book project described in this abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.