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Worker with black lung finally gets compensation
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A migrant worker known for literally opening up his chest to prove he had occupational lung disease finally received the compensation he had been demanding.

Zhang Haichao said Thursday he was very lucky to finally be compensated thanks to media exposure.

The 28-year-old on Tuesday received 615,000 yuan ($90,000) from Xinmi-based Zhengzhou Zhendong Fireproof Material Factory in Henan province where he used to work and where he developed the occupational lung disease pneumoconiosis.

"I feel very lucky that so many in the media, citizens and authorities were concerned about me, which helped me successfully get the compensation," he told China Daily Thursday, obviously in a light mood though still coughing from time to time.

He hoped authorities continue to safeguard rights for vulnerable migrant workers who have not attracted the public's attention.

"My biggest wish now is for the government to continue safeguarding rights for more migrant workers in all corners of the country, because not everyone in need is as lucky as me to be reported by the media," he said.

Zhang's four former colleagues - Wang Youcai, Shang Wenge, Gao Shuiwu and Ma Jianshan, who developed the same disease in the factory - also received compensation ranging from 317,000 to 210,000 yuan.

Zhang had worked in the factory operating a crusher and a press machine since 2004. With growing pain in his chest and an ongoing cough since 2007, Zhang suspected he had developed occupational lung disease. The diagnosis by several major hospitals in Henan and Beijing later confirmed he had developed pneumoconiosis.

But he could only get compensation if he had an assessment report for occupational disease issued by the local government-designated clinic, where he had been misdiagnosed.

In desperation, he asked doctors in No 1 Hospital affiliated with Zhengzhou University to open his chest in June to prove he had the disease, which made headlines across the country.

Media exposure attracted the authority's attention. He and his four colleagues were soon diagnosed with work-related pneumoconiosis by the local government-designated clinic in July.

As a result of the case, six local health officials and doctors were either sacked or suspended.

The State Administration of Work Safety, China's work safety watchdog, also formulated a temporary provision that required Chinese businesses and factories that violate occupational hazard regulations to be shut down and face penalties up to 300,000 yuan starting this month.

(China Daily September 18, 2009)


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