Opinion / Opinion Line

It's time to amend the law to end 48-hour limit on industrial injuries

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-08 07:26

It's time to amend the law to end 48-hour limit on industrial injuries

An employee works at a textile factory in Jimo, Shandong province May 19, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

A woman collapsed while working in a factory in Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong province last December. Although she was sent to hospital and received emergency treatment she died two days later. The women's family took the local government arbitration department to court after it decided they were not entitled to any compensation as the woman died more than 48 hours after working. The family sued the arbitration department, and the court recently gave its verdict, which went in favor of the government department. China Youth Daily comments:

It seems the local arbitration department was right, because the law says that those who die 48 hours after working should not be considered to have succumbed to industrial injuries.

However, this has more than once aroused controversy. By setting the time limit, the legislators have not taken into account different diseases and injuries that may result from an industrial accident or unsafe work environment.

Worse, the time limit might lead to a moral dilemma, as there is a chance that someone might survive if they receive more treatment, but if the person dies after 48 hours the family will receive no compensation, so they might be tempted to pull the plug on treatment.

In some extreme cases, the deadline has also resulted in medical malpractice. For example, a 51-year-old laborer Yin Guang'an suffered a brain hemorrhage and was sent to hospital. The doctor declared him brain dead six hours later, but the company that he worked for "persuaded" the doctor to continue "treatment" for 48 hours so that it did not have to pay any compensation.

Legal scholars have long been opposed to the 48-hour deadline, and there were efforts to delete it in 2009 when the industrial injury regulation was amended. Some reports said that legislators refused to change it because it was the year after the economic crisis and they hoped to better protect enterprises.

Whether that is true or not, it is time to revise the current legislation and delete the 48-hour deadline now, so as to better protect people's rights.

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