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Workers offered free health exams
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08:33, July 10, 2009

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The South China city of Guangzhou will oversee the expenditure of 3.5 million yuan for free physical examinations for 10,000 migrant workers in the remaining months of this year.

The exams will be offered to those who work in industries vulnerable to occupational diseases and to those who have participated in the city's work-related injury insurance program.

"As a co-operative program with the United Nations Development Program, we have chosen Baiyun as a pilot district. Some 10,000 migrant workers there will get free overall physical examinations as well as physical examinations for some of the specific items that relate to the risky industries where they work," said Zheng Yuhua, deputy director of the municipal labor and social security bureau of Guangzhou.

The pilot program will focus on those industries that use organic solvents in the production of plastics, electronics and leather.

The city will offer a similar program next year with the exams subsidized, the official said.

"Bosses need to pay no more than 30 percent of the charge of the physical examination and we will subsidize the rest," he said.

The program's goal is to benefit more than 30,000 migrant workers by the year 2012.

The average charge for a physical examination for occupational diseases is 180 yuan.

"For me, the program is definitely good news," Zeng Xianguo, director of a leather firm in Guangzhou's Baiyun district, told China Daily yesterday.

Zeng's budget for the staff's physical examinations is approximately 20,000 yuan annually.

"I think the city's program for free or subsidized physical examinations for migrant workers should be promoted wider and sooner," said Qian Jingyi, an employee with a private adhesive plant in the city's Tianhe district. "The sooner, the better."

"Without the help of the government, many bosses, especially those in self-employed businesses, have tried to shun the responsibility by hook or by crook," she said.

She has received only one physical examination since Feb 2007 when she began work at her current company.

Guangdong, a province with lots of industry, has seen many cases of occupational diseases in the past two decades, such as dust lung, leukemia due to benzene poisoning, trichloroethylene poisoning, and lead and nickel poisoning.

Source: China Daily

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