Expanded occupational diseases list must balance interests of all parties
China Daily

(File photo: China Daily)

According to a recent meeting of the Healthy China Action Plan Promotion Committee, cervical spondylosis, periarthritis of the shoulder, backache, hyperostosis and sciatica will not be included on the list of occupational diseases, which means workers will have to pay for treatment themselves. Beijing Youth Daily comments:

Some experts have said it is reasonable that such health problems should not be included on the list of statutory occupational diseases.

Health problems related to work have changed as the nature of work has changed. For instance, more people do sedentary office work nowadays. But in reality, many enterprises are reluctant to admit such health issues are occupational diseases, because it will directly increase their costs.

Listing a disease as an occupational disease means the cost of medical treatment is borne by the government, enterprises and individuals together.

Therefore, expanding the list of occupational disease not only relates to the rights and interests of workers, but also the rights and interests of enterprises and the country.

It is understandable that there is divergence on this issue because various parties have different interest appeals. If we can't fully consider the interest appeals of various parties, a policy can hardly be implemented well even if it is being introduced with the best of intentions.

For workers, it is obviously a good thing to expand the list of occupational diseases to include such health problems. But for enterprises it is less welcome news as they will need to bear greater employment injury insurance costs.

Simply requiring enterprises to bear all the costs of an expanded list of occupational diseases will not achieve the goal of protecting workers, because in reality those enterprises that are unwilling to pay will try to avoid the cost by every means they can.

That's why the key to solving the problem of expanding the list of occupational diseases is to balance the interests of various parties. If the list of occupational diseases is to be expanded, the authorities should provide enterprises with subsidies or tax relief to ease their economic burden, which will help ensure the implementation of the policy and so benefit workers.