China's factory floors: an industrial hygienist's view

Int J Occup Environ Health. Oct-Dec 2003;9(4):326-39. doi: 10.1179/oeh.2003.9.4.326.


Determinants of workplace health and safety in China, including work organization, composition of the workforce, production regimens, lack of independent worker representation, and the status of government regulatory enforcement, are described and analyzed. The findings of reports of nongovernmental organizations and media articles are summarized. Key markers of working conditions in export-sector factories, i.e., accident and safety program compliance rates, chemical and noise exposures, and machine guarding issues, are analyzed. Four factors for improving workplace health and safety are proposed: 1) employer commitment and implementation of effective health and safety programs on a plant level; 2) Chinese government enforcement of regulations; 3) meaningful involvement of workers in plant health and safety programs; and 4) continued involvement of international professionals and "civil society" both to pressure multinational corporations and the Chinese government and to provide technical assistance and resources for building the capacity of employers, workers, and government agencies to improve factory working conditions in the world's fastest growing economy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Employment
  • Humans
  • Industry / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Industry / organization & administration*
  • Labor Unions
  • Occupational Exposure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Occupational Health* / legislation & jurisprudence