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Measures to Improve Work Safety
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has outlined a series of measures to improve work safety, including more investment in work safety facilities, in order to curb the rising trend of fatal accidents in coal mining and other sectors.

Addressing a national tele-conference on work safety which ended Tuesday, the premier said that a key responsibility for government at various levels is to ensure work safety.

Economic development must be based on work safety and should never be achieved at the expense of working people or workers' lives, said the premier.

Frequent fatal accidents in the coal mining sector and other industries in recent months have resulted in severe loss of life and property for the people involved, which shows that the work safety situation in China is still serious, he told the meeting.

On measures to promote work safety in the immediate future, the premier said leading officials at provincial, city, county, and township levels must shoulder their responsibility to ensure local work safety.

Work safety will be a key criterion for measuring the job performance of leading government officials, he said. A work safety evaluation mechanism will be set up. He said China will adopt economic policies that help improve work safety, such as compulsory allocation of money for work safety, and economic compensation for loss of life or injury when on duty. On work safety in the coal mining sector, he said China will step up the reorganization of the country's coal mining sector, encouraging large coal mining firms to merge with smaller ones as giant ones usually pay more attention to work safety.

The central government will increase funding for technological measures to improve work safety in State-owned coal mines through various channels, he said.

Wen said China will try to put work safety facilities into all State-owned coal mines within two years, cutting the incidence of major fatal coal mine gas-related explosions in about two years.

He said the country will complete its program to overhaul small coal mines which are more vulnerable to work safety accidents.

The premier said rules on work safety should be followed to the letter and a compulsory work safety training mechanism will be introduced so that each employee receives the training required by law and regulations.

He called for tougher measures to punish those held responsible for accidents and for failure in the enforcement of work safety laws.

He said China will use macro-economic regulation to reduce pressure on work safety, hinting at continued efforts to reduce demand for coal by curbing investment in energy-intensive projects or in sectors troubled by overcapacity. On implementation of major work safety decisions, the premier reiterated that government officials must follow the orders issued by the central authorities and shed their investments in coal mines. Coal mines deemed illegal and not up to safety standards will be closed. Wen urged local government leaders to spend time overseeing the upgrade of small coal mines during the upcoming Chinese lunar New Year holidays, which begins on Jan. 29. On work safety in key industries and public places during the holiday, the premier called for improved efforts in supervision and management of those industries and major sources of danger, saying that public places should eliminate possible hidden dangers.

(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2006)

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