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Rules on Work in Hot Weather
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A compulsory standard should be set to protect the rights and interests of people working in high temperatures, says an article in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

Continual high temperatures in many cities have recently aroused much public attention on how to ensure work safety under such circumstances.

It is common to see labourers working in the open air when the temperature reaches 38 or even 40 C. Such workplaces lack sufficient or effective protection from the sun, and these workers receive no compensation.

How to protect the rights of people working during this hot weather is an important legislative issue. But the existing Labour Law, Work Safety Law and other related administrative rules and regulations barely touched on this issue.

The only national code that we can cite is the provisional regulation on heatstroke prevention measures issued in 1960, the contents of which are hardly practical today. And the only regional regulation is a provisional one issuedlast year by Shenzhen Labour and Social Security Bureau.

The lack of laws and regulations to protect people working in high temperatures is harmful to these workers and society. There is no scientific understanding or definition of whether high temperatures can be regarded a natural disaster or a public emergency.

Prompt action should be taken in this regard. Laws and regulations should be drawn up to clarify the responsibilities of government and enterprises and protect workers' rights and interests.

The State Council could issue an urgent circular and then draw up an administrative rule or amend the Work Safety Law to ensure that compulsory regulations exist to protect people working in high temperatures.

Local regulations can set higher standards than national ones. The definition of a "high temperature" should be made. And temperatures higher than that of the human body should be regarded as disasters.

Different work patterns and places should be differentiated. Outdoor work in high temperatures should be restricted or prohibited unless the employers can prove sufficient protective measures are taken and compensation is paid. Compensation should be paid according to the intensity of the work and how high the temperature is.

The meteorological department should work with the departments of labour, work safety and public health to form a rational joint working mechanism to deal with emergencies. Employers' obligations should also be clarified.

(China Daily June 26, 2006)

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