Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet passes work safety amendment

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Facing a rise in work-related deaths, the Cabinet yesterday revised rules to hold employers responsible for having appropriate precautionary measures against such incidents, or risk facing fines of up to NT$300,000 (US$10,300).

The Cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the Labor Safety and Health Act (勞工安全衛生法) that would change its name to the occupational safety and health act (職業安全衛生法), and overhaul the rules regulating work environments that were set up 21 years ago.

According to the Council of Labor Affairs, if the amendment passes the legislature the number of employees covered under the act would increase to 10.67 million workers from all sectors, from the current 6.7 million from certain industries.

The council has proposed rules to require employers to take precautionary measures to prevent adverse health effects resulting from an abnormal working schedule, such as overtime and night shifts, that put irregular strains on the body.

Violations of the rules would be punishable by a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$300,000.

In case of an employee feeling unfit to complete their assigned workload, employers would be required under the amendment to arrange a health examination for them and improve their working environment, change their responsibilities, or shorten their shift if the check up revealed any health problems. Failure to comply would result in a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000.

The government introduced rules targeted at protecting workers in high-risk environments, such as those in the petrochemical industry, following a spate of incidents in recent years at Formosa Plastics Group’s sixth naphtha cracker in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township (麥寮).

Industries subject to this clause would also include manufacturers which produce, dispose of, or use hazardous chemical substances.

Under the article, dubbed the “sixth naphtha cracker clause,” the maximum fine for employers failing to comply with workplace safety rules and conduct regular risk assessments would be NT$3 million.

Employers would be subjected to consecutive fines if they failed to improve the problems.

The Cabinet yesterday also approved an amendment to the Tobacco and Alcohol Administration Act (菸酒管理法) that would toughen the criminal penalty for people who produce or import poor-quality tobacco or alcohol, to ensure public health.

Under the current act, anyone who produces counterfeit tobacco or alcohol will be punished by an administrative fine equal to between one and five times the market value of the offending product, as well as face a three-year prison sentence or an additional fine of NT$3 million.

The amendment proposed that the punishments be increased to a maximum of NT$100 million in fines and seven years in prison.

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