Expert: China needs a safety makeover

Updated: 2016-09-29 08:27

By Xu Wei(China Daily)

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China should pay special attention to ensuring the safety of healthcare workers and rural migrants, since they are exposed to significant safety and health risks that are not comprehensively governed, a senior officer of the International Labor Organization said.

Deborah Greenfield, the organization's deputy director-general for policy, said China's aging population will pose more challenges to its healthcare workers, who will be increasingly depended upon for protection against communicable diseases.

"There are also a lot of physical injuries associated with lifting and positioning people who cannot take care of themselves," she said on the sidelines of the 8th China International Forum on Work Safety held in Beijing on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, migrant workers, who form the bulk of the construction workforce, also deserve special attention as for the most part they typically lack employment contracts that secure access to rights such as accident compensation.

Expert: China needs a safety makeover

"Generally they don't have very good healthcare in their rural communities, so they are coming into industrial or urban settings with deficits. They need to be educated more and they need special protection," she said.

China had 277 million rural migrant workers as of 2015, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The number is up by 1.3 percent from the previous year.

Greenfield also highlighted the need for Chinese employers to raise their safety and health standards as more infrastructure companies from China go global with the Belt and Road Initiative.

"You want to compete in an economically sound way that incorporates good safety and health practices. Once you enter the global stage, you need to comply with international standards," she said.

Greenfield noted that the ILO has noticed the continuous reductions in work-related accidents and deaths in China in recent years.

"China's resolve to cut overcapacity in hazardous industries such as coal mining has contributed to a sustained reduction in fatalities. We think it has also contributed to reductions in related occupational diseases, such as silicosis," she said.

Yang Huanning, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, said in a keynote speech at the forum that it's important to promote a strong culture of accident prevention and take innovative measures to reform work safety regulations.

"We are willing to expand international exchanges in the work safety area and ... strive to improve the level of work safety and the healthcare level of workers," he said.

The country had about 282,000 work safety accidents in 2015, which took the lives of 66,000 people, according to the administration.

(China Daily 09/29/2016 page5)