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Foreign Firms to Advise on Work-safety
Foreign consulting companies are to be allowed to provide legal services related to occupational health and safety for Chinese enterprises except for those involved in national security and business secrets, China's workplace safety watchdog said yesterday.

Yang Fu, director of the Technological Improvement and Equipment Department under the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision, said: "The details of such business provided by overseas people are still under consideration by the relevant departments but one thing is for sure - such investment must obtain the approval of the higher authority."

The companies will be required to be conversant with China's laws and regulations on workplace health and safety and should not apply foreign standards to their services, Yang said.

The government's intention to set up a standardized workplace-safety system in enterprises was in line with international requirements and the trend towards globalization, Yang added.

"In this regard, we have borrowed lots of experiences from industrialized countries and the International Labour Organization (ILO)," Yang told a press conference in Beijing yesterday.

There is increasingly active and deep international economic and trade exchanges, and the world economies have showed a willingness to form a package of unified standards on workplace health and safety, according to Yang.

In June last year, the ILO published guidelines on occupational safety and health management systems (ILO/OSH 2001) to encourage countries to become more effective in preventing accidents.

The press conference unveiled the Chinese Government's new guidelines on setting up a workplace-safety management system among enterprises nationwide.

Zhao Tiechui, deputy general-director of the safety watchdog, reminded yesterday's press conference that the government released a pilot standard on workplace safety in October 1999 and set up a national committee on safety standards verification over enterprises in July 2000.

The government encouraged enterprises nationwide to adopt the system, believed to be in line with modern enterprise management strategies, Zhao said.

Since July 2000, about 20,000 employees among 700 enterprises have accepted training on workplace safety and 200 enterprises have set up safety management systems to root out hazards and prevent accidents.

(China Daily January 31, 2002)

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