Occupational diseases get new focus 750,000 cases
China is set to step up its control of occupational diseases, with the central government calling for the transformation or phasingout of hazardous workplaces and the expansion of health insurance coverage for affected people.
A guideline on the reform and development of work safety, published by the central government on Sunday, said that enterprises with workplaces known to cause severe occupational diseases must step up technical innovation and transformation, or they will be phased out.
Local authorities should support the fundamental research, prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment of occupational diseases, the guideline said.
The country will also expand the scope of medical aid, and include people who become disabled due to occupational diseases in social insurance coverage.
China had reported about 833,700 cases of people with occupational diseases up to the end of 2013, among whom 750,000 were pneu- moconiosis patients, Xinhua News Agency reported.
Liu Tiemin, a researcher at the China Academy of Safety Science and Technology, said China previously placed more emphasis on the prevention of accidents than on the prevention of occupational diseases.
“Occupational diseases generally have a longer incubation period. If we do not focus our efforts on this problem now, it will be impossible to solve the problem in the future,” he said.
Liu added that it is important for the legislators to make a special law and for the government to establish a special mechanism to solve the problem.
“For workers who could potentially suffer from such diseases, it is important to get diagnoses early and enable them to receive treatment in time,” he said.
The guideline noted that the country is targeting major improvements in occupational health by 2020.
Liu added that it is also important to designate one special government department to regulate workplace hazards to reduce red tape.
“In general, the irritants for occupational disease can also cause work safety accidents. So reducing bureaucracy would improve the efficiency of government supervision,” he said.
of reported occupational diseases involved people with pneumoconiosis.