China's insatiable appetite for energy to feed its booming
industrial production could lead to a rebound of industrial
accidents, a leading work safety official said yesterday.
Addressing a national teleconference, Li Yizhong, minister of
the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), said that the vast
demand for energy to sustain economic growth was putting huge
pressure on safety at work.
The country's electricity supply is expected to reach its peak
as summer approaches, he said.
"The booming coal market is fanning the impulse of coal mines
and other companies to increase production," he said.
"That will put more pressure on workers," he said, "as the
phenomena of illegal production and illegal operation become
Companies tend to ignore work safety rules and surpass their
production capacity, overworking their employees and overloading
equipment to meet the demand, he said.
The warning came just days after a slew of serious accidents
occurred during the May Day Golden Week holiday.
On Friday, 14 people died and 43 were injured after a runaway
truck ploughed into a group of people waiting for a bus in
southwest China's Yunnan Province.
On Monday, 17 people were killed and 25 others were injured when
a bus came off the road in southwest China's Guizhou Province.
Li made specific reference to the disordered management and
deliberate delay in reporting a gas explosion at a colliery in
Linfen in north China's Shanxi Province on Saturday, which killed 30
"These frequent accidents expose the loopholes and deep-rooted
problems relating to work safety in key industries," Li said.
He said that SAWS would launch a special campaign to improve
work safety in key industries over the coming months.
China reported 11.1 percent growth if its gross domestic product
in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 0.7
The country's fixed assets scale swelled 23.7 percent and
industries with huge energy consumption, like steel, non-ferrous
and chemical, registered an increase of 20.6 percent.
The increasing demand for electricity has also buoyed coal
prices and stimulated its production.
The average coal price at the end of March was 6.2 percent up on
last year, while coal output for the first four months was up 6.4
Huang Yi, a spokesman for the SAWS said that by the end of the
year it will have closed some 4,000 small mines that failed to meet
(China Daily May 9, 2007)