AGTA Continues Silicosis Campaign

It is joining with an NGO to fight the debilitating disease that often afflicts gem workers

American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has gotten more industry support for its campaign to fight the rise of silicosis in the gemstone industry.

Silicosis is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease that results from the inhalation of airborne silica dust. The dust is sometimes released when workers fashion gem materials containing silica, though the disease itself isn’t limited to the gem business.

AGTA first announced its project to look at the disease in gemstone cutting last June. It subsequently entered into a partnership with NGO Workplace Health Without Borders and plans to test new controls and health protocols.

“One of our hopes is that once proving this system works, it can be used or adapted in other areas,” said AGTA president Jeffrey Bilgore in a statement. “This way the jewelry industry can help improve working conditions both within and beyond our sphere.”

The International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), the Indian Diamond & Colorstone Association (IDCA), the Indian Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC), and the Jaipur Jewellers Association all pledged their support to the campaign during the AGTA GemFair in Tucson.

“To now be able to announce industry-wide support for this project is gratifying and can only improve our chances of making significant improvements,” Bilgore said.

JCK News Director