A seminar was held in Beijing Thursday to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which falls on April 28 every year, and safety in China's booming construction sector was identified as a focus.
"Lack of safety awareness among construction workers, especially migrant workers, is a major factor behind the high number of accidents," said Lin Yisheng, deputy director of the Department of International Cooperation under the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).
"Inferior safety equipment is another major factor," said Sha Xiaolin, a board director of the Shanghai-based Linzheng Safety Equipment Co.
The event was jointly organized by the SAWS, the Ministry of Construction and the International Labor Organization.
Last year there were 1,144 construction-related accidents nationwide, resulting in a total of 1,324 deaths, down 11.5 percent and 13.1 percent respectively on 2003.
Of these, 42 accidents resulted in the deaths of three or more workers and were classed as major accidents, a fall of 12.5 percent from the previous year. These major accidents claimed 175 lives, an 18.6 percent decrease.
Despite the falls, the number of construction-related accidents is still considered too high.
From January to March this year, there were 150 accidents on construction sites, resulting in 184 deaths.
China has nearly 40 million construction workers, more than 80 percent of whom are migrant workers, most of whom have had no safety training.
To reduce costs and pursue profits, many employers arm their workers with cheap poor-quality safety equipment, said Sha.
Currently the construction sector is the third biggest industrial killer in China behind the transport and mining industries.
But with construction booming, authorities face a tough task in enforcing regulations and reducing accidents in the sector.
The government has taken some concrete measures, such as promulgation of laws on work safety and the prevention and control of occupational illnesses, and of work safety management regulations.
It is also promoting innovation in the safety supervision system and has increased transparency to enable those responsible for accidents to be held to account.
(China Daily April 29, 2005)