28 APRIL 2003


Every year over 2 million people are killed at work throughout the

world. A further 270 million are injured in work related accidents. An

estimated 160 million people around the world are suffering from work

related illnesses. Some 355,000 fatal accidents take place every year.

* Last year, 2002 in China, there were an estimated 110,000 deaths

from industrial accidents and over 14,000 accidents in the

manufacturing and mining industries


* Over half the people in the world with pneumoconiosis (a lung

disease associated with dust and silica dust) live in China. Over

15,200 new cases occur each year.

* The number of cases of people suffering from toxic poisoning in

foreign owned companies in China reportedly grew 44% from 1999 to

2000. Toxic fumes from benzene and chromium are found in the

majority of small factories producing textiles and other goods.

* In an official survey, over 15% of all workers interviewed were

believed to be suffering from some form of occupational disease.

* In Shenzhen, an average of 13 factory workers a day lose a finger

or an arm and one dies every four and a half days.

* In Yongkang County, Zhejiang province one recent surevy showed

that in Yongkang alone, over 1,000 workers lose fingers while at work

28 April is International Workers Memorial Day.

All around the world unions and other groups are campaigning for an end

to the human cost of labour. China Labour Bulletin is campaigning to put

an end to the needless deaths and injuries of thousands of Chinese workers.

The Chinese authority?s response to the appalling legacy of death and

injury in Chinese industry is inadequate and ineffective. New laws have

been passed on health and safety, on mine management and on occupational

disease and yet the numbers of injured and ill continue to rise. The new

laws are themselves not adequately enforced. Measures to fine and shut

down factories remain unenforced due to local corruption, the lack of

power given to the health and safety inspectors and in some cases,

official cover ups.

The overwhelming push for profits and the apparent disregard for the

safety of workers mean that most factories continue to flout regulations

and fail to invest in even the most basic health and safety equipment.

In many instances the small scale of enterprises means that factories

are housed in small overcrowded buildings with no fire escapes or proper

ventilation. Machines are operated without proper safeguards and little

or no training is given to workers.

When an accident occurs or a worker dies, specially in many privately

owned enterprises, the families of the victims often have to spend years

trying to get compensation. In many cases, the money offered is minimal

and does not even cover the cost of a funeral or immediate medical care.

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