Looking back, as good as what you know


Tried the free media offered by wordpress. I still feel that I am not ready for http://www.ecomaray.org or http://www.ecomaray.com or whatever, I’m simply happy getting this blog going and not really making money out of it.  So I chose a woodworker. Not in the biblical or religious sense where it is widely known that Jesus and his father Joseph are wood workers in terms of occupation.  But I need as much spiritual advise as I go through my day to day challenges.

Currently, I’m employed on a project basis as a senior advisor or commonly known as a technical consultant for GIZ, a German  development organization for a couple of projects funded by the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). Though my project is on climate change policy, health and safety has been very much highlighted in our work in the Philippines. I, for one have been working more on safety than in health.  To compensate, I am taking occupational health courses as the University of the Philippines in Manila, slowly  I will get another masters degree in a couple of years. I really just want to enjoy myself and learn, because sometimes its very difficult to to connect theory and practice.

It has been truly helpful to know something technical about health given the pressures of some corporate and political entities that have been trying to a put a stop on our efforts and using safety and health as a reason to delay low carbon technologies.  However, the additional knowledge on the chronic toxicity impacts of conventional chemicals I learned from occupational health has been very helpful in establishing a concrete basis for justifying the safety of low emission alternatives, strangely.

Yesterday, we had a session on occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS), strangely I was in a position different from my classmates, I used to be an auditor. Of course, as much as possible, I have to keep quiet, but I just remembered one unforgettable case in my HSE auditing where I saw a problem but could not report, why? I do not think no one in the audit team is competent enough to establish an issue concretely with adequate scientific and legal basis, even I questioned my level of knowledge to point out a problem with medical complexity.

Here is the case, wood dust is a known human carcinogen, backed up with robust epidemiological data that establishes a link with nasopharyngeal cancer  among woodworkers. I know people who have suffered and died from it, Saint Ezekiel Moreno, our town’s  parish priest at the turn of the 19th century (OK!) or Saint Joseph, father of Jesus.  Wow, retrospective cohorts!

A couple years back, I have seen case reports in an HSE audit in a furniture factory commissioned by a multilateral financial development agency.  Seven cases of nasal, nasopharyngeal and lung cancers with nasal malignancies of workers who have worked from 10 to 20 years in the company.  So what do I do? None, I will only be called a weirdo by my audit teammates who have mediocre knowledge on occupational epidemiology, remove it from my notes and move on. It was a highly frustrating situation. It was only yesterday when I remembered it.  I am more than that, thank you Lord!