13 Oct 2008

PNG health official castigates Rabaul businesses for not protecting workers from volcanic ash

4:29 pm on 13 October 2008

A Papua New Guinea government official says workers in Rabaul have been paid to die instead of being supplied with protective gear against volcanic ash fallout.

The secretary of PNG's Industrial Relations Department, David Tibu, has ordered five businesses in Rabaul, in East New Britain, to close immediately for not complying with recommended safety standards.

Much of Rabaul was devastated when Mt Tavurvur erupted in 1994.

The mountain is continuing to belch out smoke and ash.

Mr Tibu told the Post Courier newspaper that he is only enforcing a law passed by Parliament and safety is a paramount requirement.

He says it is simple and not rocket science for business houses to be equipped with simple or the minimum safety equipment as specified under the legislation.

Mr Tibu says the businesses had failed to buy safety equipment such as dust masks, hand gloves, overalls, goggles, respiratory masks and hats.

He says some businesses were paying risk allowances instead of providing safety wear, and effectively workers are getting paid to die.