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Pushing for More Accountability and Fewer Workplace Accidents
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Provincial, municipal Party and government chiefs are to shoulder more responsibility when it comes to work safety, a spokesman with the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said yesterday.

Provincial, municipal Party and government chiefs are not exempt from punishment if work safety accidents result in fatalities, SAWS said. 

To date, only deputy governors or mayors in charge of work safety have been held accountable for major disasters.

Huang Shengchu, president of the China Coal Information Institute, told China Daily that a string of fatal major accidents last year has made the leadership more determined to broaden the accountability of officials.

Last year, four vice-governors were disciplined for coalmine accidents. But governors and Party chiefs escaped punishment.

With four major coalmine accidents killing more than 100 miners each time, 2005 was a black year for China's work safety record.

"The tightened system is expected to change the officials attitude of emphasizing economic development at the expense of human life," Huang said.

In the coming years, China is to take the fatality rate per 100 million yuan (US$12.3 million) of GDP and per 100,000 industrial workers as its standard for assessing social and economic development.

Huang said the awareness of top officials is vital to realize the central government's goal of work safety and development.

At a work safety discussion held last week, Huang's institute proposed a package of safety measures to be implemented by the end of 2007.

"SAWS is considering including the goals into the central government plan," Huang added.

SAWS also vowed to close down this year another 35,800 factories or enterprises that pose serious work safety threats.

Those on yesterday's blacklist include 8,053 non-coal mines, 2,500 chemical factories, and 25,000 construction companies.

(China Daily February 16, 2006)

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