Occupational injuries

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, March 9, 2011
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A survey, such as that undertaken by the Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Study Center of Labor, may be considered less than representative or scientific by some standards, and the agency that conducted it judged un-authoritative - after all, a non-governmental organization committed to research on occupational diseases and legal assistance for the victims has obvious access problems.

And a survey that generated only 172 valid responses may invite questions about its conclusions given that there are about 16 million workplaces with health-damaging potential where 200 million or so of our compatriots are toiling for their daily bread.

But, let us not be so rash as to hastily dismiss this third-party report. It is an admirable unofficial attempt to reveal the overall picture of the conditions that exist in the nation's toxic or health-threatening workplaces.

Instead of dwelling on its shortcomings, we urge all compassionate citizens to take a serious look at the problem the report highlights - a problem that is worth nationwide attention not just because it is a matter of public health, but also because it is one of justice and fairness.

The health problems of workers exposed to toxic chemicals at an Apple-affiliated factory became public, in part, because it involved one of the most popular brand names in the world. But on each and every day, numerous citizens work without proper safety precautions and at risk of injury.

Even worse, once injured the victims have to overcome tremendous barriers to receive compensation, or even to have themselves certified as victims.

According to Beijing Yilian, almost 46 percent of the victims surveyed were not covered by insurance against injury at work, about 56 percent had no endowment insurance, and 38 percent of them received no compensation.

Employers tend to dodge any responsibility for workplace health hazards. That is true almost everywhere.

We have the Regulations on Insurance Against Injury at Work, but the regulations have prevented many from getting the compensation they deserve. The procedure appears flawless in theory. In practice, it necessitates that the employer produce proof of the victim's exposure to harmful materials, for instance, has effectively become an obstacle.

This, however, constitutes the legal basis for an official diagnosis of an occupational disease, which is the precondition for determining an industrial injury.

Since the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the National People's Congress are now convening for their annual sessions in Beijing, and this is a concern that involves a sizeable proportion of our working population, we hope this topic is on the agenda for discussion.

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