To understand the magnitude of occupational health problems in China, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has organized a number of nationwide surveys, including the following:
- a survey on occupational exposures to benzene, lead, mercury, TNT and organophosphates (1979-81)
- a retrospective epidemiological investigation on occupational cancers in workers exposed to eight chemicals (1983-85)
- an epidemiological survey on pneumoconioses (1952-86)
- a survey on occupational health problems of small-scale industries and the relevant intervention strategies (1984-85, 1990-92).
The results of these surveys have served as a very important foundation for formulating national policies and regulations. At the same time, a national occupational health reporting system has been established by MOPH. The Annual Report of the National Occupational Health Situation has been published since 1983. The data are compiled and analysed by the National Center of Occupational Health Reporting (NCOHR) and then reported to the MOPH. There are local reporting offices in Occupational Health Institutes (OHIs) or Health Epidemic Prevention Stations (HEPS) at all levels from county to province. The reporting follows a “bottom-up” procedure annually, but, if an acute poisoning accident happened which involved three or more cases of poisoning or one death, it must be reported to the local OHI and also directly to the MOPH within 24 hours by the primary-contact medical institutions. The information required to be reported every year includes the following: registered new cases of compensable occupational diseases, the results of health examinations of workers and the monitoring of working environments (MOPH 1991). China is currently promoting the computerization of the reporting system and its computer network. It currently extends from the national centre to the provincial offices.