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China Issues New Rules to Protect Workers' Health

Xinhua, 20 May 2002

BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- A new regulation issued by China's State Council was enforced Sunday to help improve the health of employees working with poisonous and dangerous materials.

Monday's China Daily reported that the regulation is expected to reduce the increasing number of diseases brought about by poisonous materials in the working place.

For example, the regulation ensures workers' right to have complete understanding of the dangers of their work and any employers found violating these rights will be severely punished. Also, employers are required to provide safety conditions and necessary equipment to guarantee the safety to their workers.

Officials from the Ministry of Health were quoted by the newspaper as saying that China's occupational diseases have become very serious. This new regulation provides workers with a new legal weapon to protect their own rights.

Around 1,166 cases of chronic poisoning cases were registered in the country last year with millions employees working with poor protection measures.

Most of the poisoning accidents took place in small and medium- sized firms and in particular in private firms.

Officials say that the new regulation will not only force employers to improve working conditions, but will also give workers more legal rights to prevent occupational diseases and enable them to receive compensation.