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Authorities Promise Work Safety Overhaul

In the wake of a series of recent fatal colliery accidents, China's work safety authorities vowed yesterday to adopt a package of "iron-handed" measures to improve the problematic workplace safety situation.

The State Council will dispatch several overhaul panels into eight major coal-producing provinces, including Shanxi, Hebei, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Liaoning and Shaanxi in the upcoming fortnight, said Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), during a televised conference.

Supervision efforts on colliery work safety will focus on a number of aspects, according to Li.

To conduct a thorough safety check-up on possible dangers and enhance supervision on collieries that were asked to stop production for improvements;

To shut down at least 4,000 coal mines that could not meet work safety standards even after improvements by December 31;

To crack down on illicit mining activities as well as suspend the approval of new projects in the name of technological innovation and expansion;

To further implement measures on gas control and curb over-production that surpasses limitations;

To pursue people who misuse their rights or violate work safety regulations.

Recently released figures from SAWS indicate that 116,027 people had been killed in 677,379 workplace accidents by December 11 this year. The figures are 9,618 and 72,845 lower than 2004 respectively.

Workplace accident figures include traffic accidents.

As for the coal mining industry, 5,491 miners died in 2,939 colliery accidents, 206 more than last year.

One week ago, a gas blast in a privately-owned coal mine in Tangshan, Hebei Province killed 91 people and left 17 others still missing, according to the latest statistics.

Under the demand of the State Council, a special investigation panel was set up on Saturday to find out the causes of the accident and punish those responsible.

Initial investigations indicated that illicit production, loopholes in management and lack of work safety training may have led to the accident, he said.

Seven suspects were detained by local police on charges of being responsible for the accident, reports said.

(China Daily December 13, 2005)

Death Toll Rises to 90 in Hebei Colliery Blast
4,000 Small Coalmines to Be Closed Annually
Leaders Call for Better Accident Prevention
List of Unqualified Collieries Released
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