Prior to 1970, shipbeaking was concentrated in Europe. It was a highly mechanised activity carried out at docks by skilled workers. However the increasing cost of upholding environmental health and safety guidelines made it unprofitable. So the industry moved from the steel capped boots and hard hats of Europe to the bare footed workers of Asia. It is estimated that approximately 100 000 Asians are employed as ship breakers. (International Labour Organisation). Workers are exposed to toxic fumes, excessive noise and heat, all in a climate of low wages, poor job security (changes in the scrap price can see thousands laid off) and an almost total absence of occupational safety and health regulations.
From collection: Vital Waste Graphics
Philippe Rekacewicz, UNEP/GRID-Arendal