57,000 Chinese coal miners suffer from lung disease annually
There are a total of nearly 2.7 million dust exposed workers in China’s coal mines. It is estimated that a total of 57,000 coal miners in China suffer from pneumoconiosis, an occupational lung disease caused by inhalation of dust, each year and more than 6,000 people die due to pneumoconiosis.
This figure is twice as much as the death toll caused by safety accidents, according to the Symposium on Occupational Safety and Health in Coal Mines, also known as the Meeting on Prevention and Treatment of Pneumoconiosis, on Nov. 10.
A research report conducted by the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety and the All-China Federation of Labor and China Occupational Safety and Health Association shows that dust concentrations in most coal miners seriously exceeded the standard.
From 1983 to 2008, the range of coal dust concentration was between 198 milligrams per cubic meter to 3,420 milligrams per cubic meter, 49.5 times to 855 times more than the national standard. This caused a large number of workers to suffer from pneumoconiosis each year. By the end of 2007, there were a total of 312,000 cases of pneumoconiosis in China’s coal mine enterprises (not including coal mine enterprises in villages and towns) and the detectable rate of pneumoconiosis reached more than 7 percent.
An official from the Department of Labor Protection under the All-China Federation of Labor said that pneumoconiosis and occupational hazards in China’s coal industry have not been effectively controlled. Certain enterprises ignore the production safety and their main responsibility of occupational disease prevention.
Some illegal activities that directly endanger the health and safety of workers frequently occurred. Some township coal mines even did not establish a responsibility system and rules and regulations regarding occupational hazard prevention in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations. This caused the insufficient capital investment, lack of protective equipment and a gap in the work of occupational health.