Fri, Jun 22, 2018 - Page 3 News List

OSHA botched overwork death probe: association

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Cheng Ching-lien, left, the wife of a truck driver who allegedly died from overwork, speaks during a news conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries yesterday criticized the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for its handling of an investigation into the death of truck driver Lu Chih-wei (呂智偉), who allegedly died after working more than 300 hours per month for half a year before his death.

Lu, an employee of Shan-loong Transportation, on March 31 last year lost consciousness during a delivery. He was diagnosed with an intracerebral hemorrhage and died in a hospital on May 25.

Before Lu passed away, OSHA sent a representative to the hospital to investigate the cause of his condition, association representative Ho Kuang-wan (賀光卍) told a news conference in Taipei.

Lu’s wife, Cheng Ching-lien (鄭淨蓮), who worked with her husband as his assistant on a daily basis, had asked the official to give her some time to compile information on her husband’s work hours, because she was too busy taking care of him, his parents and their three children at the time, Ho said.

Soon after Lu’s death, the agency issued a report on Lu’s death based on work records provided by the company, concluding that he had not died from overwork, Ho said.

In August last year, the agency agreed to reopen the case and include the work hour information provided by Cheng, he said.

Cheng’s records showed that Lu worked for more than 300 hours almost every month in the six months leading up to his death, which would meet the government’s criteria for overwork.

“During the second investigation, OSHA questioned the work hour records I provided and would rather believe other truck drivers’ words,” she said. “Those workers did not work with us — how would they have the same work hours?”

While other employees said they needed at most one-and-a-half hours to load their trucks before setting off, Cheng said that she and her husband always needed two to three hours.

The two employees who testified might not be willing to tell the truth for fear of retaliation by the company, she said.

“Almost every Saturday, we would go to work and bring our children along with us, but the company said we never worked on weekends,” she said.

The agency last month issued a second report, which also concluded that Lu’s death was not caused by overwork, Ho said.

“Much of Cheng’s testimony — including how much time they would spend loading cargo and the work they did on the weekend — was not considered, on the grounds that she has a vested interest in the case,” Ho said, adding that the investigation was one-sided and flawed.

“If the association and the family never protested, OSHA would not have even considered the time to load cargo as work hours, because they had not been included in the work hour records provided by the company,” he said.

Overwork investigations are always complicated and the agency definitely did not favor any side, OSHA representative Hsu Li-ying (許莉瑩) said.

The family could file for an administrative remedy if they disagree with the conclusion of the investigation after the report is submitted to the Bureau of Labor Insurance, she said.

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