'Make migrants aware' of occupational diseases

By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-06 07:03

The Ministry of Health sought society's help yesterday to raise the country's 200 million migrant workers' awareness about laws and rights on occupational diseases because their health was a big hazard for sustainable development.

"Migrant workers account for up to 90 percent of occupational diseases, even though they are protected by the Law on Occupational Disease Prevention," Vice-Minister of Health Chen Xiaohong said at a law promotion program at Beijing Railway Station, which was attended by many migrant workers who had just returned after Spring Festival.

China faces a grave situation of workplace risks, which could hamper the sustainable development of labor resources and harm social harmony and stability, Chen said.

Only a few migrant workers know of the occupational disease prevention law, said Su Zhi, deputy director of the ministry's workplace disease supervision bureau.

"The initiative aims to let migrant workers know about the law so that they can use it to protect their rights and health," he said.

Meng Guofang, 43, a worker from Central China's Henan Province, has been working at construction sites in Beijing for years but knew nothing about the law. But after attending yesterday's program, he said: "Now I know I have a law to protect myself."

Ministry statistics show pneumoconiosis is the most widespread occupational disease in China, with 600,000 workers suffering from it, 140,000 of who have died.

(China Daily 03/06/2007 page2)

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