China still needs more time before it can see a significant
improvement in production safety, a top safety official said
About 320 lives are lost daily in workplace accidents.
"China is such a large and developing country, and is in the
middle of rapid industrialization, thus accidents happen and cannot
be avoided," Li Yizhong, minister of the State Administration of
Work Safety (SAWS) told a pres conference yesterday.
Li, who was reported to have yelled and pounded his desk because
of a series of serious accidents last month, said "mental
preparation" is needed for a long and ardous journey before China
can step out of a highly accident-prone period.
He hoped the country's safety situation would see a significant
improvement in about 10 to 15 years.
Huang Shuxian, deputy minister of the Ministry of Supervision,
also announced yesterday the results of investigations into 11
major accidents, seven mining and four others, which claimed 535
lives, with 11 still missing and an economic loss of 415 million
yuan (US$53 million).
The investigations resulted in 117 people being transferred to
judicial departments to face possible criminal charges, and 166
officials, including two provincial-level, were given various
Li said that some businessmen turn a blind eye to the law,
chaotic management and bad supervision of local governments.
Corruption should also be blamed.
"Behind the curtain of some accidents are problems like
dereliction of duty, money-for-power, as well as collusion between
businessmen and officials," Li said.
He said the number of workplace accidents as well as fatalities
are expected to see a sharp decline this year.
Up to December 17 this year, 110,000 lives were lost in more
than 610,000 accidents nationwide. A one-tenth drop in the death
rate compared to the same period last year.
A drastic decline is also forecast in the accident-prone coal
mining industry a 21 percent reduction compared to the same period
last year, Li said.
The final death toll this year is certain to be much lower than
last year's 127,000 deaths, Li said. "The overall production safety
situation is stable and showing signs of improvement."
Li attributed the drop in the number of deaths to a nationwide
crackdown on numerous small coal mines that do not have adequate
safety equipment and account for the majority of deaths.
The country closed nearly 6,000 small coal mines last year and
planned to shut down about the same number in the coming two years,
said Zhao Tiechui, deputy minister of SAWS.
"These small mines are pits that devour lives; if we shut them
down, the accident rate will decline," Li said.
He also brushed aside doubts that the closure of small mines
would lead to a reduction in coal output and harm the national
Recent statistics show coal output increased 8.1 percent,
whereas the accumulative production of small mines in counties and
towns saw a year-on-year 5.6 percent increase, Li said.
He said the current national coal in stock is 147 million tons,
the equivalent of last year's, and it should increase after the
"I can say with responsibility that the rectification and
closure of small mines will not affect the national economy and the
living standards of the people," Li added.
(China Daily December 22, 2006)