Medical experts on occupational disease prevention have carried out urgent health checks on workers at a shoe factory in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, following a poisoning case which took place earlier this month.
Medical check-ups were conducted on 95 female workers and the results are expected to be announced in a day or two, said Wen Weiqun, director of the law supervision department of the Public Health Bureau of Guangdong Province.
The local Anjia factory is allegedly responsible for the case where seven female workers were poisoned with methane (CH3) from a chemical used in the glue that makes shoes. The victims' limbs went numb and were left weak, which the local hospital diagnosed as toxicopathy (disease due to poisoning).
The 13 affected female workers are now receiving medical treatment in the Occupational Disease Prevention and Control Hospital in Guangzhou.
The factory has made an overhaul in the working environment in accordance with the requirements of workplace safety regulations. The poisonous glue has been replaced with a non-poisonous glue made in Taiwan, Wen noted.
Other measures taken include the division of poisonous and non-poisonous workshops and the set-up of airing facilities like exhaust fans and vents.
Workers are required to wear gloves, masks and aprons to help prevent contamination.
The factory will be fined and workers will be paid compensation following the incident. Meanwhile the company will receive executive punishment according to the Law of Occupational Disease Prevention and Control, Wen said.
One million yuan (US$122,000) is also expected to be paid out to workers to help with medical expenses.
In recent years, the Pearl River Delta has seen frequent occupational poisoning cases, most of which have involved acute chemical poisoning incidents in private small and medium-sized township firms where many farmers-turned-workers are employed, and in small foreign-invested firms.
In these firms, workers often fail to receive health examinations and employers usually pay little attention to preventative measures and facilities.
Organic solvent has become a major factor in workplace poisoning cases, increasing from 2.35 percent of the total in 1989 to 75 percent in 2000.
(China Daily July 12, 2002)