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February 15, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

iPhones firm says poison caseis closed

EIGHT women who have been poisoned at a factory making parts for Apple Inc's iPhones in Shanghai say they fear for the future after their pleas for more compensation were refused.

The workers were diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a disease caused by exposure to the cleaning agent hexane, a poisonous chemical, two years ago.

Today, they find even moving painful and suffer serious trembling in their hands.

The women were employed by the Shanghai Yingcheng Optoelectronic Technology Co and received compensation of up to 50,000 yuan (US$7,582) each before the Spring Festival after work authorities deemed their condition an occupational disease.

But they say the money is not enough to cover their medical bills as recovery from the disease usually takes years.

"We hope the company can pay our future medical bills and offer subsidies until we get fully recovered," said one of the victims, Li Yunda, a 37-year-old Jiangxi Province native.

But the company said yesterday that the incident was over and it was unlikely that it would pay more compensation.

In February 2009, Li began to show symptoms of dizziness, vomiting, numb limbs and weight loss.

"I lost 20 kilograms within one year," she said.

One month later, she was unable to do housework and had to be fed by her husband.

Another seven co-workers in the same workshop experienced similar symptoms.

Li's injury was rated a ninth-level work injury on a 10-level system, and the compensation for that level was 35,000 yuan, local authorities said.

Li said her illness had confined her to home for the past two years.

"How can I find a job?" Li said, as she showed how badly her hands kept shaking.

"If I stood for a while, my legs and feet would start trembling and I am unable to control the shaking," she said.

Li began work at the factory in 2008, and her job was to take filters soaked in cleaning agent and wash them.

"We just used our hands to take out the filters from the cleaning agent directly," she said.

In a 50 square meter room, Li and some 20 colleagues worked at least 12 hours a day, wearing no gloves or masks.

An official with the Shanghai Work Safety Administration Bureau said workers in contact with the cleaning agent have to wear masks and gloves and should have check-ups every six months.

The factory, which had been fined for its mistakes, had improved the working environment - installing ventilation facilities and providing protective equipment to workers, the official said.


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