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Oct 31, 2011

Workplace Safety in China: Yah the Chinese Government Cares

Y’all might have read about the town in Hunan province where it was recently discovered that at least one factory had been polluting the ground, water and air so badly that people were actually dying as a direct result of the pollution. 

As China continues to develop and evolve there will undoubtedly be more of these stories – similar to our Love Canal in New York state in the 1970′s where 21,000 tons of toxic chemical waste was buried.

Anyway, it seems that this recent event in Hunan province has given the government good reason to look at and implement some new measures on occupational hazards and safety.  While this is probably good, nobody knows what the law means or how far the government or local governments will go to enforce the law.  Please notice that in the the article below it doesn’t just mention “polluting factories” but also “businesses.” 

Remember with the labor law how we told you that the ambiguity in the law was one of the ways that the burgeoning legal trade here in China was going to find sources of revenue.  Looks like this new regulation will be a bonanza for disgruntled employees, competitors and hungry lawyers. 

Companies now required to monitor workplace hazards
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-14 09:33
Beginning next month, Chinese businesses and factories that violate occupational hazard regulations will be shut down and face a maximum penalty of 300,000 yuan ($44,000).

“If an employee’s health has been affected by dust, toxic substances and other harmful factors during occupational activities, those harms can be defined as occupational hazards,” according to a temporary provision released recently by China’s work safety watchdog.

The provisions were formulated by the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS). SAWS is in charge of monitoring and inspecting work safety practices, halting work hazards, issuing licenses, investigating accidents and stopping illegal work practices.

Businesses and factories should faithfully inform employees about possible occupational hazards and their consequences, and provide occupational hazards prevention knowledge training. Also, employers are required to give their workers necessary health checkups. They also should buy protective gear for employees working around hazards and ensure that equipment remains safe and in good repair.

Businesses that violate the provision will receive a warning from SAWS, ordering them to correct the practice within a time limit. Enterprises that do not correct the problem within the time limit will be fined 20,000 yuan.

Businesses that seriously violate a relevant law, regulation, or industry standard, causing grave damage to employees’ life and health, will be closed and required to pay a fine of between 100,000 and 300,000 yuan.
Moreover, companies are obliged to report any occupational hazards in construction projects to their local work safety department. They also must periodically monitor work safety procedures and make reports to the department. Occupational hazards should be monitored at least once a year, and be evaluated at least once every three years.