Lack of safety awareness is the No 1 cause of all accidents in China, said Zhang Baoming, head of the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision, Tuesday.
While there were fewer accidents last year than in previous years, the numbers are still striking - 2001 saw 1 million accidents, causing 130,000 deaths nationwide, Zhang said.
Of all the accidents reported, 140 of them were very serious ones, with death tolls more than 10 each, claiming 2,556 lives in total. However, this is down 27.6 percent over the previous year's serious accidents, according to the administration's statistics.
Of the total number of deaths from accidents reported last year, a whopping 81.5 percent of them came from traffic accidents, statistics show.
There were 760,000 traffic accidents last year, which caused 106,000 deaths.
Workplace accidents were also a big concern, Zhang said.
Shabby infrastructure and a lack of safety awareness must be overcome to improve work safety, Zhang noted.
The latest example of this was when six women workers died and four others were injured in a fire at a shoe factory in the coastal city of Wenzhou in Zhejiang Province on Saturday.
While the number of small private mines and factories have decreased sharply over the past two years, the continued operation of some small mines due to the underhanded actions of local leaders at the county and township levels are posing an increased risk of further workplace disasters, Zhang said.
Many accidents occur in small companies with no strict management guidelines and standardized administration.
As of March 20, the country has seen 11 grave accidents and 148 deaths at private firms, said Zhang. The grim situation has prompted the country to launch a national safety campaign among the public, he stressed.
This year, work safety week will be extended to a month and a series of safety promotion activities will be organized in June.
(China Daily March 27, 2002)