Tue, May 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Another firefighter succumbs to injuries

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

A firefighter who was critically injured in a fire at an electronics factory in Taoyuan on April 28 died on Sunday, bringing the death toll from the blaze to eight.

Lin Wei-hsi (林尉熙) had been in a coma at the city’s Landseed Hospital for the past few days, doctors said.

Despite efforts to resuscitate him, he passed away on Sunday due to irreversible brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen during the fire, the hospital said.

He was injured in the fire that broke out at a printed circuit board factory owned by Chin-Poon Industrial Co.

The fire claimed the lives of five other firefighters, who were trapped by a collapsed structure during the rescue effort, and two Thai workers, the Taoyuan Fire Department said.

Lin had signed an organ and tissue donation consent form before he died, which means that his heart, liver, blood vessels and corneas will be donated to others, in keeping with his final wishes, the hospital said.

The other critically injured firefighter, Lu Tsung-yu (呂宗郁), remains in intensive care, doctors said.

In related news, the Ministry of Labor yesterday promised to review its policies on migrant workers to better protect them after the fire at Chin-Poon.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) said that the ministry had failed to reduce work hazards to safeguard migrant workers.

“While the government has been promoting its New Southbound Policy, it has been unable to protect migrant workers from workplace accidents and injuries,” she said at a question-and-answer session at a meeting of the legislature’s Social welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.

The poor work conditions have made many of them unwilling to work in Taiwan and thereby made labor-intensive businesses less interested in investing in Taiwan, she added.

Compared with Japan, Taiwan has only about half the number of migrant workers, but its mortality rate is higher, Hsu said.

“Taiwan has 670,000 migrant workers, while Japan has 1.27 million. Over the past six years, 864 migrant workers died in Taiwan, while 158 died in Japan,” she said.

Taiwan has only only 274 labor inspectors responsible for issues related to migrant workers, she said, adding that the number is clearly insufficient.

Asked whether the ministry has any plans to improve its policies after the Taoyuan fire, Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said she had instructed the Workforce Development Agency to look into the case and review its measures.

She agreed that more inspectors are needed and promised to present an improvement plan in two weeks.

KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) also questioned the effectiveness of the inspections.

In 2016, the ministry carried out 67,000 inspections, when there were 670,000 companies governed by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), he said.

That translates into each company having to undergo one labor inspection every 10 years, with the fine averaging NT$35,000, he said.

“For employers, undergoing a labor inspection every 10 years and being fined NT$35,000 per violation would be far better than paying the average salary of NT$50,000 per month to hire an extra person,” he said.

Hsu Ming-chun said the ministry would increase its number of inspectors to 1,000 by the end of the year and enhance inspections of companies that have violated labor regulations before.

Additional reporting by CNA

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