The Construction Workers’ Summer
Yu Xue, correspondent from Legal Weekly
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The safety accident caused by hot weather emerged one after another in this burning hot summer.
On June 18th, a construction worker from a construction site on Puxing Road in Minghang District in Shanghai died of heat exhaustion. Not very long after that, a construction worker from Hongxing International construction site in Cangshan District in Fuzhou of Fujian province died because of working overtime in the outdoor at the high temperature.
This is not an uncommon phenomenon among the construction workers. Statistics shows that at least 40 people died of sunstroke at high temperature in 2010 in many places of
Wei Wei,a NGO worker, told the correspondent from the Legal Weekly that the Little Bird Hotline, founded by him, recently finished more than 4000 investigation questionnaires which show that most of the construction workers didn’t get the high temperature subsidies. Besides, the power supply voltage is under 200 volt in many dormitories on the construction sites, which means that the workers can’t use electric fans or air conditioners for cooling.
“There is no hot water supplied on construction site and the workers can only(fetch some cold water to wash themselves)have a shower in the bathroom. For those elder workers, it is very easy to cause heart attack and to die if they suddenly use the cold water at the high temperature.” Wei Wei said. He thinks that the biggest problem is that most of the construction workers didn’t sign the labor contract with the employers to protect their rights.
Wang Dezhi, the founder of Migrant Workers’ Home, a non-governmental organization said to the correspondent from Legal Weekly that there are still many construction workers who didn’t know the importance of the labor contract. Sometimes, the construction party doesn’t complete the contract until the workers sign their names first. And there are also subcontracts on construction site which will possibly conceal the real information of the construction party to the workers.
Currently, the non-governmental organizations of Wei Wei and Wang Dezhi often distribute the handbooks about legal knowledge, provide short-time training or performances on the construction sites to enhance workers’ rights protection awareness.
On June 29th of 2012, the Measures for Heatstroke Prevention and Cooling Management was released and the interim provisions of 1960 was abolished. The new methods not only extended the scope of protection for laborers, but also labeled a clear boundary line of labor taboo at high temperature. For instance, if the top temperature reached to 40 degrees, the outdoor operations should be stopped.
However, it seems that there are difficulties to actually implement the more detailed and specific new methods. From Wei Wei and Wang Dezhi’s perspectives, construction workers’ summer crisis still exists.
A staff from the safety office of Beijing Housing and Urban and Rural Construction Committee told the correspondent that they asked the construction party to equip hygiene and emergency facilities. The safety office will take actions when the requirements delivered to the large-scaled construction site. “There are thousands of construction sites in Beijing, it is impossible for us to directly go to the construction sites to publicize.”