The Shaanxi provincial government will take three months to thoroughly investigate the prevalence of occupational injuries and diseases, including silicosis, chemical poisoning and radiation sickness.
"From January 20 to April 20, the local public health administrative departments at all levels will survey the causes of occupational injuries and diseases and their distribution among various trades, as well as the overall injury situation throughout the province," said Li Hongguang, director of the Shaanxi Provincial Public Health Department.
The factors leading to occupational diseases include dust, poisonous chemicals and radiation in the workplace. Diseases caused by exposure to these elements include acute and chronic poisoning, silicosis, radiation sickness and those caused by physical factors, Li said.
"We will pay more attention to the investigation of some township enterprises and private factories because many of them do not have complete protection and control measures for their employees," he said.
About 83 per cent of Shaanxi's township and private enterprises have recorded occupational injuries. And from 1991 to 2001, 5,183 reported cases involved occupational diseases. Some 80 per cent of these cases were diagnosed as silicosis, which is mainly found in the coal mine, machinery, railway and construction materials industries.
Every year, Shaanxi has suffered direct economic losses of 600 million yuan (US$72.3 million) and countless indirect losses due to silicosis, Li said.
(China Daily January 24, 2002)