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September 22, 2017

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Occupational hazard regulations set to come into effect on July 3

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Labor (MOL, 勞動部) recently amended the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職衛法) to better ensure workers' rights in response to more and more incidents of emergency room staff and social workers being attacked on the job and rising concerns related to overwork.

According to the new regulations, which will come into effect on July 3, employers in companies with more than 100 employees, especially those within the health care, social welfare, security and financial sectors, must set out preventive measures against possible scenarios of physical and psychological abuse in the workplace.

Among the new regulations is a clause related to overwork stipulating that employers in companies with more than 300 employees must set up preventive measures against overwork-related problems, providing check-ups, doctor appointments and work hour adjustments. All related records must be kept for at least three years.

The MOL explained that the term "abuse" in the workplace includes both physical and psychological abuse, covering scenarios in which supervisors exert verbal abuse against subordinates as well as cases of verbal sexual harassment. The ministry explained that employers who fail to come up with a preventive plan against these scenarios will be given a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

The guidelines for preventing physical abuse include increasing security personnel in emergency rooms as well as installing emergency notification systems and security cameras.

Given that musculoskeletal pain accounts for 80 percent of all occupational ailments, employers in companies with more than 100 people are also required to set up preventive measures such as providing ergonomic equipment, the ministry said, adding that people in the high-risk category include movers, drivers, construction workers and medical staff.

In consideration of people who work in high temperatures, regulations have been amended to ensure that employers assess the health condition of their employees and allot appropriate work hours and breaks. If workers succumb to heatstroke due to their employers' negligence, employers must pay a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$300,000.

The ministry is preparing to establish a center in order to answer workers' questions related to occupational safety and health.

Considering that many employers in small- and medium-sized enterprises may not have the resources to implement the newly required measures, the ministry has made plans to set up health centers across the island that will feature specialists in occupational illnesses.

The head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (職安署) said that the government plans to place more emphasis on the prevention of, as opposed to the treatment of, occupational hazards in order to solve related problems at their source.

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