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Law Makes Workplace Safer

China is considering drafting a national work safety bill designed to curb the number of accidents, especially fatal ones, a state bureau official said Tuesday.

Wu Xiaoyu, a division director at the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision, said the draft of the landmark law was tabled at the country's top legislature for discussion on Monday, after 20 years of preparation and numerous revisions.

Wu said he hoped the law would serve as a "solid safeguard" for workplace safety.

The pending legislation is needed because China is facing a "stern situation" in workplace-related security, Li Rongrong, minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission (SETC), told the National People's Congress on Monday when introducing the draft law.

The first half of 2001 alone saw 5,471 people killed in 4,545 industrial and mining accidents. And traffic wrecks killed 47,574 people in the same time period, according to statistics from Li's commission.

In the latest of a string of accidents to strike the country's mining industry, a coal mine in central China's Henan Province flooded on Sunday, trapping 15 people, according to a release from Wu's agency.

Nationwide, slightly more than 5,000 people died in coal mining accidents between January and November, Zhang Baoming, director of the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision, said.

Officials blamed the exceedingly high number of accidents on lax work safety management and loopholes in existing work safety rules and said that must be reversed.

"The law will make clear the responsibilities and roles of various people's governments and departments in ensuring work safety," Wu said. "It also will regulate the production performance and protect the interests and rights of the workers."

To end the practice in some companies where management puts workers before profits, the draft law stipulates that the head of an enterprise should assume full responsibility for workplace safety.

The bill also decrees that the people's governments at various levels should establish an emergency rescue system.

(China Daily December 26, 2001)

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