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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Occupational diseases

In order to survive in this so-called modern world, people need to work. The payroll they get by the end of the month (or for some people by the end of the week) is a big help for them to make the ends meet for the following month.

However, in this (also) so-called modern world, occupation that makes people survive can also be the source of diseases. It is widely recognized that certain environments—for example in construction sites, mining sites, industrial factories—‘provide’ harmful substances that will always be inhaled by the workers; such as asbestos, coal dust, arsenic and vinyl chloride, etc. In NORTH COUNTRY movie, Glory got a very serious illness that made her paralyzed as a result from working in Pearson Taconite and Steel Inc, a mining company.

Besides, RSI’s (repetitive strain injuries) are also a kind of occupational diseases. World Book 2005 (digital edition) states that RSI’s are painful disorders caused by performing a similar movement over and over again. A wide range of occupations—from computer programming to meat cutting—pose a risk of RSI’s.

A couple of weeks ago, when my brother was hospitalized, his doctor said that the heavy burden due to his work resulted in a part of his brain was swollen; this was suspected as a tumor. The heavy burden was caused by too much thinking because he had to carry out tasks which were supposed to be done by four people; but he had to do it by himself.

This reminded me of a student of mine who once complained about heavy burden in her office. Her post was a customer service officer. However, what she had to do at her office was not just as a CSO. She also had to help other employees’ tasks, e.g. a teller. She was a new employee in one state-owned bank; the same bank where my brother has been working since 1990.

The company is understaffed,” was one reason my student said to me. However, hiring new employees was out of question due to limited budget the company had.

The government does not give enough welfare to the citizens,” I told Angie when she asked me why.

The declining service the government gave the citizens was also explained when a neighbor told me about another state-owned bank where he worked. The bank does not automatically hire new employees although some senior employees have retired. Instead, the bank just asks a headhunter company to recruit some people. These people then are hired by the bank for several years. They are not directly hired by the bank so that their salary is not full because the bank gives the salary to the headhunter company. This company then takes around 20% of the amount as ‘the payment’. By doing this, the bank is not responsible to give the employees some allowances, such as health, housing, pension, etc. Meanwhile, the bank does not need to spend more money to hire more ‘full time’ employees.

This is similar to some private companies. Some companies do not give increase to the employees’ salary although they have been working there for ten years, let’s say. When an employee complains, the company will easily lay him/her off. The company then will hire a new employee with a low starting salary.

This so-called modern world is really not easy. For those living in big cities, they need to work to make ends meet. However, the big burden at the office, not healthy environment, and not conducive atmosphere will make them suffer from some illnesses.

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