Employees wearing masks with filters work in an office where construction is still underway in Chengdu, Sichuan province on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. [Photo: Chengdu Business Daily]
A company in Sichuan province has been criticised for insisting its employees work in their offices during construction work.
Many of the workers at the firm in Chengdu city have complained of dizziness, and some got nosebleeds working in their new offices where construction is still underway, reports Chengdu Business Daily.
The concentration of methanol was found to be up to 0.14 milligrams per cubic meter, higher than the national standard of 0.1 milligrams.
To escape the overpowering smell, many employees chose to work in a nearby supermarket or coffee shops. However, a new rule issued by the company on Monday insisted that employees of the company must work in their offices, otherwise they will be treated as absent from work and lose their salaries.
Forced to stay at their desks, around half the employees have taken to wearing masks with filters while they work. Some even wear respirators to block out the harmful air.
Some employees have complained about the conditions to the city's labor supervising department and the mayor's hotline, said one employee.
The management of the company has given no explanation for the decision to move into the unfinished offices, nor the new rule.
Lawyers say the company may have violated the law.
Local lawyer Yang Weiping said according to the Law on Employment Contracts, an employee may terminate his employment contract and ask for compensation if his employer fails to provide the labor protection or working conditions specified in the employment contract.
Another lawyer, Ma Ling, said that if an employer provides odious working conditions or a severely polluted environment, resulting in serious harm to the physical or mental health of employees, it shall be subjected to administrative punishment or even be pursued with criminal liability. However, there would need to be abundant proof, said Ma, and the concentration of methanol would have to be examined by a third-party institute with legally recognized qualification.
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