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China says workplace safety improved in 2017

14 March 2018

China saw fewer work-related accidents and fatalities last year as government regulators strengthened inspections and penalties. Still, there are more potential safety hazards as the economy develops and urbanization continues, the country’s work safety authority said.

About 53,000 work-related accidents occurred in the country last year, a decline of 16.2% from 2016. Those accidents killed 38,000 people, down 12.1%, Wang Yupu, minister of the State Administration of Work Safety, said.

The number of “extremely severe accidents” declined from 32 in 2016 to 25 last year, and fatalities in these accidents decreased since 2016 by 228 to 342, Wang said at a national work safety conference.

Most of these accidents occurred in coal mines and road transportation and because of workplace fires, Wang said.

Accidents are classified as “extremely severe” if they result in more than 30 deaths or severely injure more than 100 people, or cause direct economic losses of more than 100 million yuan ($15.6 million).

The improvement occurred thanks to enhanced inspections and penalties, Wang said. Work safety authorities conducted more than 4.6 million on-site inspections last year and the fines they imposed increased by about 58 percent from 2016 to about 3.3 billion yuan, Wang said.

He said 805 people were held accountable for 26 “extremely severe accidents” and 334 of them have been referred to prosecutors.

In a four-month national work safety inspection last year, 63,000 enterprises were forced to suspend production and another 31,000 were shut down altogether, he added.

The country has seen more challenges in work safety controls as the economy develops and urbanisation continues, he said.

About 43 million people, the population of a medium-sized country, travel in China every day. A total of 1 billion metric tons of hazardous chemical substances are transported in the country each year, he said.

On March 13, Xinhua said a new ministry would take charge of work safety. The Ministry of Emergency Management will be set up to forestall and defuse serious and major risks and improve disaster relief.

The ministry will be responsible for compiling and implementing emergency management plans, as well as organising rescue and relief for disasters and workplace accidents, according to the plan on institutional restructuring of the State Council, or the cabinet.

It will also be in charge of work safety and the prevention and control of fire, flood, drought and geographical disasters.

China Earthquake Administration and State Administration of Coal Mine Safety will be affiliated to the new ministry, while the State Administration of Work Safety will be dismantled.


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