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Heat allowances sought for workers

[ 2010-07-07 10:38]     字号 [] [] []  
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As a heat wave bakes most of the country, labor experts are calling for diversified allowances to guarantee outdoor workers' health.

Heat allowances are not compulsory nationwide and are especially unlikely to be provided for migrant construction workers, Capital University of Economics and Business labor economics department professor Lu Xuejing said.

"The government should issue regulations protecting outdoor workers' health, especially because extreme weather is becoming more common," she said.

Employers could also reschedule shifts for cooler times of day, shorten working hours and provide heatstroke-prevention medications as forms of heat allowances, she added.

Her call for a relevant law to be passed as soon as possible was echoed on Tuesday by Wang Yazhi, director of the labor protection department of the Hebei Provincial Federation of Trade Unions.

The only regulation protecting workers laboring in extreme heat was passed in 1960. In 2007, four ministries issued a notice saying employers should pay allowances to those whose work environment exceeds 35 C.

However, few places have adopted these guidelines as regulations.

The Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau has raised the city's monthly heat allowance from 60 yuan ($8.8) to 120 yuan starting in July.

The policy covers construction workers, drivers of buses without air conditioning and cleaners, but many outdoor workers said they have not heard of the allowance.

Employers must pay medical bills for outdoor workers who suffer heat strokes on the job, according to the List of Occupational Diseases released by the Ministry of Health in 2002.

Beijing taxi driver Jiang Xiaohui frequently wiped his forehead while working on Tuesday, when the capital's highest temperature reached 42.9 C and the road surface 68 C, both records for the past 59 years.

"The car's like a sauna, but I'm much luckier than the bus drivers," said the 46-year-old.

The extreme heat caused a Beijing bus to catch fire on Tuesday morning.

Nobody was injured when the bus burned into a charred husk in less than two minutes.

Extreme heat has also scorched Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Fujian, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou.

Li Quanzhong was glistening with sweat as he cut steel bars at a construction site in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province.

"If we can't finish the project on time, the boss will cut our pay," Li said. The only

"heat allowance" the crew has received is green bean soup at lunch and dinner, he added.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) predicted the heat wave would continue for 10 days.

The NMC raised its heat alert from yellow to orange on Tuesday. The orange alert is the second highest of the four levels after red. It indicates that forecasts call for temperatures consistently higher than 37 C and sometimes higher than 40 C in some locations for at least the next 48 hours.

Hospitals across the country are crowded with patients of heat-related or air conditioning-related health problems.


1. When was the only regulation protecting outdoor workers from extreme heat passed?

2. What temperature did the nations capital hit on Tuesday?

3. Who is responsible for medical bills if an outdoor worker has a heat stroke?


1. 1960.

2. 42.9.

3. The employer.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Heat allowances sought for workers

Heat allowances sought for workers

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China daily for one year.