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Draft law tackles work-related diseases

By Zheng Yi (Global Times)

09:07, January 11, 2012

A draft version of an occupational disease prevention law that is currently undergoing amendment will include more diseases, such as cervical spondylosis, mouse hand or eye problems, said Huang Hanlin, a member of the drafting team, who is also with the Guangdong Prevention and Treatment Center for Occupational Diseases.

According to Huang, the revision of the law not only expands the types of disease but also broadens the definition of employers.

"Except for diseases that are caused by coming into contact with harmful materials, dust and radioactive substances, diseases that are caused by non-material factors such as overwork will also be included as occupational diseases," said Huang, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

The definition of occupational disease in China is fairly narrow compared with the one published by the International Labor Organization, and the expansion of the category in China will help it meet international conventions, Huang said.

"There were 300 to 400 people suffering from occupational diseases in Guangdong last year, and that number will be multiplied several times this year after the category is expanded," he added.

At the same time, doctors who contract infectious diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis B through contact with patients with will also be considered to be suffering from occupational diseases, according to Southern Metropolis.

"The expansion of the category for occupational diseases is significant to us office workers, and will save us a lot of money in treating diseases," Zheng Qing, 54, an architectural designer from Shanghai, told the Global Times Tuesday, adding that she had recently been diagnosed with a cervical vertebra disease, which, according to her, came about because she had to work for more than 10 hours every day.

The new version of the occupational disease prevention law also regulates that patients who do not have employers or whose employers cannot be identified should be treated by local governments, the newspaper said.

"This move will change the situation of patients suffering from pneumoconiosis not knowing how to treat the disease," Wang Keqin, the founder of a public welfare project "Love Saves Pneumoconiosis," told the Global Times.

According to Wang, there are more than 6 million people in China suffering from pneumoconiosis, which is caused by the inhalation of dust, often in mines, and only 700,000 of them are identified as having occupational diseases.

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