Following the recent deaths of two workers due to heat, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and labor groups yesterday called on labor authorities to pay more attention to the threat that high temperatures may pose to workers.
With record-high temperatures hitting Taiwan last month, a delivery man died carrying liquid gas containers, while a construction worker died after working for several hours under the sun earlier this month.
“Clearly, labor authorities also consider that heat hazards pose a serious threat to workers, which led to the release of guidelines by the Council of Labor Affairs on heat hazard in 2010,” Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
“However, we regret that deaths of workers due to the heat still continue today,” he said.
Despite the threat that the heat may pose to workers, labor groups accused labor authorities of not showing enough concern.
Taiwan Occupational Safety and Health Link executive director Huang Yi-ling (黃怡翎) said that since 2008, only four cases of heat-related occupational injuries have been reported.
“We highly doubt that the numbers reflect reality: This may show the carelessness of labor authorities,” Huang said.
Lin also cast doubt on figures provided by the council.
Among 1,800 establishments inspected, “only 33 did not provide the necessary measures preventing workers from becoming heat hazard victims,” he said.
Measures to prevent workers from heat hazards include providing drinking water and appropriate rest spaces.
The council’s Department of Labor Inspection director Wu Shih-hsiung (吳世雄) denied that there were problems in labor inspections, but promised to put more efforts into heat hazard-related inspections.