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Advisers propose protection for outdoor workers

2014-01-26 09:11 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

Political advisers at the city level in different provinces have submitted proposals that call for enhanced care for people working outdoors in smoggy conditions.  [Special coverage]

Hou Lixin, head of a private traditional Chinese medicine practice in Wuhan, Hubei province, shared his proposals on better protecting outdoor workers during a hearing on Jan 4, one day before the third session of the 12th Wuhan committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference opened.

In his proposals, Hou suggested the city government give subsidies to those workers who spend most of their working hours outdoors.

"They are the people who spend most of their days exposed to air pollution during smoggy days," he said.

The doctor said his proposals were the result of an increasing number of cases involving respiratory complaints this year.

"The number of people who came to us with respiratory symptoms increased almost by one-third from last year, mainly because the air pollution is more serious than last year," he said.

Hou said most patients who come to the clinic spend most of their days working outdoors, as cleaners, traffic police and construction workers.

"These are people doing ordinary jobs, but they are usually the core bread earners of the family," Hou said. "They have a family relying on them. It's vitally important for them to stay healthy."

Most of the patients are aware that their symptoms are environment-related, but few understand that air pollution is the root cause.

Hou recalls a female patient, surnamed Teng, who came for medical treatment after months of coughing.

"When she came to the hospital, it was quite severe," Hou said. "At first, she did not take her cough seriously and did not have time for a medical check as she spent most of her day working."

Hou also donated 300 medical cards to the city government during the hearing, which will be distributed to street cleaners in Wuhan. These will allow street cleaners to have medical consultations and checkups for free.

The hospital also set up a tea room especially for street cleaners who come for medical consultations, so they can sit and have a hot drink while waiting.

Smoggy weather in Wuhan was especially severe this year, and the city government issued Level 3 air pollution warnings for the third time this winter, with the air quality index reaching 359 on Jan 4.

Some other city level members also submitted proposals calling for more care for those working outdoors.

Zhang Yimin, a political adviser in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, and also department head of the city's labor union, said in his proposals that the government and companies should provide more care for those working outdoors.

"I think those companies should give more professional equipment to those working outdoors," he said.

"Most street cleaners only have ordinary masks that protect them from dust. The government, as well as the companies they serve, should prepare them with better protection to reduce harm to them."

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