Safety in Production Urged
Chen Changzhi, member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has proposed at the Ninth CPPCC session in March that the Law on Safety in Operations should be enacted promptly to standardize the production order and ensure the workers’ safety and health. Specific responsibilities should also be clarified to investigate and punish those held responsible for accidents.

Last year, a series of sensational accidents occurred, claiming lives and resulting in economic losses.

An explosion at a privately-owned fireworks factory in eastern China’s Jiangxi Province killed 33 people and injured 12 on March 11.

On March 29, a blaze in a video game parlor claimed 74 lives in central China’s Henan Province.

On June 22, a boat sank on the Yangtze River, killing 130 people.

On June 30, 49 died in an air crash in Wuhan, Hubei.

On November 25, a coalmine explosion in Inner Mongolia killed 51 and injured 12.

On December 25, a plaza blaze claimed 309 lives in Luoyang, Henan.

These were just some of the major accidents in that year which resulted in huge losses. In the past year, as many as 912 such accidents were investigated and dealt with accordingly.

Various factors, Chen said, could explain the increase in the number of accidents during economic operations.

Local government and related departments neglect safety at work, passing the buck to enterprises. The present Chinese system stipulates that governments at all levels and related departments are directly in charge of operational safety. In Shangshu County, Jiangxi Province, where there were two explosions at a fireworks factory, the local government issued a document every two days calling for safe operations, yet, specific, solid, and efficient work was absent. In Inner Mongolia’s coalmine explosion, cigarette lighters were found on the rescued miners, which is against the safety regulations. According to the surviving miners, it was common knowledge that the miners played cards, smoked and left their posts without permission. Serious dangers lurk in some places, which will lead to disasters sooner or later if not curbed promptly, they admitted.

Some Chinese enterprises neglect the link between development, safety and economic benefit; they let profit come before safety. In Hejiang County, Sichuan Province, owner of the ill-fated vessel changed the ship’s structure without authorization to accommodate more passengers, which caused the ship to capsize, killing 130 people on board.

Some non-state industrial and mining enterprises are a hotbed of accidents, since they act contrary to laws and regulations and infringe the interests of the workers. Investigation indicates that over 80 percent of industrial accidents occur in such enterprises.

In addition, the workers have poor awareness of safe operations. After a serious ship accident in Sichuan, the local government tightened its supervision and management of water transportation, and now overloading is not allowed. Yet when investigators checked an overloaded ship, they were thrown into the water by local people who were anxious to sell their vegetables.

Besides stiffening the concerned laws and regulations, Chen added, the Chinese government should strengthen its supervision of public areas like schools, hotels, recreation centers and tourism spots; of collectively- and privately-run transportation enterprises; of fireworks factories, video game parlors, coalmines and oil refineries; and of railway, civil aviation, and highway transportation. People found responsible for accidents should be investigated and punished accordingly, and the investigation and penalty results should be open to the public.

What is more important is that people should enhance their awareness of safety in operations to better protect themselves and reduce accidents, Chen said.

( 03/10/2001)