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Authorities told to clear accident backlog
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A backlog of more 530 serious workplace accidents from the past two years has prompted the government's work safety committee to pressure regional authorities to step up their investigations.

The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) yesterday released a circular, which revealed that 3,245 serious workplace accidents, each involving 10 or more deaths, had occurred over the two-year period. The document followed an order by the SAWS last month that said all provincial and municipal officials must act on findings of investigations on major workplace accidents before January 15.

The latest circular said 10,657 individuals responsible for accidents had been investigated or punished.

The safety committee said 2,707 cases had been closed.

Those responsible for the accidents received either criminal penalties, Party disciplinary punishment, or administrative penalties.

Bans have also been imposed on 152,985 of 178,473 known illegal construction, production and business units.

There were more than 500,000 recorded work accidents in China last year, resulting in 98,340 deaths.

The death rate was down almost 20 percent from the year before, according to the administration.

The number of accidents was down almost 13 percent.

The administration said 3,770 people were killed in mining disasters across the country last year.

Over the past three years, 10,412 coal mines have been closed, exceeding the government's earlier goal to close about 10,000 small mines between August 2005 and the middle of this year.

However, the nation's work safety situation remains "grave", SAWS chief Li Yizhong warned earlier.

Tardy progress in accident investigations in certain regions has prompted this latest push.

A 10-point document released in December by the Communist Party of China's disciplinary committee has assisted efforts by imposing stricter penalties on those who fail to maintain safety in the workplace.

The document said officials could be demoted, sacked or expelled from the Party if they take advantage of their posts to influence purchases, public biddings or accident probes.

(China Daily January 10, 2008)

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