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Workplace Accidents on the Rise
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Work safety problems remained serious in July, with the occurrence of 245 major accidents and the deaths of 575 people.

The figures were 65.5 percent and 42 percent higher than figures for the same period last year, according to the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) yesterday.

From January to July this year, 65,350 people lost their lives in a total of 549,939 workplace accidents, according to SAWS.

Despite the nation's strengthened supervision efforts to ensure work safety, many small private or township enterprises failed to give enough attention to the problem, with the result that many more human lives were lost, according to the SAWS report.

The report noted that the number of major accidents in private companies and their death tolls accounted for 64.9 percent and 69.6 percent of the total figures.

In a breakdown by industry, the coal-mining sector had the most casualties, according to the report. The number of colliery accidents and their death tolls rose 166.2 percent and 71.6 percent respectively in July compared with last year's figures for the same month.

In their pursuit of profit, many owners of small-coal mines, which often had no safety certificates, ignored the repeated warnings from work safety authorities, undoubtedly adding to the repeated occurrence of serious accidents.

SAWS' statistics indicated that 70 miners were killed in 14 accidents in small coalmines in July.

Some State-owned mines and enterprises were also punished severely for their inadequate safety infrastructure, which they had got away with by taking advantage of loopholes in management regulations, said the report.

For example, lack of safety provisions led to an ammonia spill from a burst pipe in a workshop at a fertilizer company in Shenxian County in Shandong Province, resulting in the death of 13 people.

Violation of traffic rules and the operation of agricultural vehicles and ships without licensees are further main reasons for accidents. Such accidents have traditionally been lumped in the same category as workplace accidents.

In July, the number of road accidents and their death toll surprisingly increased 150 and 152 percent respectively over figures for the same period last year, according to SAWS.

To improve the work safety situation, SAWS has launched nationwide supervision and spot checks in different sectors and regions, and it has designated the coal mining and dangerous chemical industries as two major focuses for safety rectification campaigns in the second half of the year.

(China Daily August 8, 2002)

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