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Shanghai Vows to Improve Workplace Safety Rules
Shanghai municipal officials are vowing to improve workplace safety regulations after announcing that the number of workers killed on the job in Shanghai last year rose to its highest level in three years.

Last year, 349 workers died on the job in 299 accidents in the city, including a crane accident on July 17 which killed 36, officials announced at a conference on workplace safety yesterday. In 2000, 293 people died in workplace accidents, while 500 died in 1994 - the highest number in the last decade.

Sixty percent of workplace deaths involved migrant workers, while 70 percent of accidents were blamed on improper use of equipment, according to Vice Mayor Jiang Yiren.

The city's conference follows on the heels of a national workplace conference yesterday that heard Vice Premier Wu Bangguo express concern about safety in privately run factories. Such workshops were responsible for 58 percent of all workplace accidents in China last year, accounting for 67 percent of the country's job-related deaths.

In January, nine "huge" accidents happened in China, killing 156, officials noted without giving any details on the mishaps.

At yesterday's local conference, the vice mayor signed "responsibility contracts" with leaders of the Shanghai Commerce Commission, and officials from Zhabei, Songjiang and Qingpu districts.

The government plans to sign similar contracts with leaders from other city districts in the near future.

Jiang said the government will also push to establish agencies to oversee work-place safety issues.

"It's one of the issues that the government should focus on," said Jiang.

The agencies will consult with companies on safety management and training in a market-oriented way, he said.

The city will also tighten safety regulations at 590 large "accident-prone" enterprises, mostly chemical plants and gas and oil storage facilities, Jiang said.

(eastday.com February 8, 2002)

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