The top safety agency yesterday warned against a possible spike
in accidents driven by an expected rise in demand for energy over
the festive period.
"The cold weather, which can hinder transportation, and a
shortfall in the supply of hydropower might lead to a surge in
demand for coal," Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of
Work Safety (SAWS), said at a press conference held by the State
Council Information Office.
Some provinces, including Shaanxi and Hunan, are experiencing
power shortages partly due to coal transportation being hindered by
the snow, he said.
"Efforts should be made to guarantee the power supply, but we
cannot trade safety for higher output," Li said.
He said authorities will also carry out special inspections to
ensure the safe transportation and storage of fireworks over the
Li yesterday disclosed the punishments given to those involved
in five major accidents.
The accidents, including the country's worst bridge collapse in
Fenghuang, Hunan province, last year and the explosion at the
Nanshan coal mine in Jinzhong, Shanxi in 2006, resulted in 189
deaths and 76.7 million yuan ($10.6 million) in economic
A total of 183 people have been punished, with 78 of them facing
judicial trials, Wang Wei, a spokesman for the Ministry of
Loose management, lapse supervision and possible corruption were
the main reasons Li gave for the problems.
In the latest case involving coal mine fatalities, a gas
explosion on Sunday in Linfen, Shanxi province, left at least 20
people dead. Miners had attempted to reopen an illegal mine amid
In order to weed out potential accidents, the SAWS said this
year it will focus on uncovering hidden dangers in the workplace by
encouraging people to report accidents in a timely manner.
More than 101,400 people died in workplace and transportation
accidents last year, down 10 percent on 2006.
Li said the government has "basically" reached its goal set at
the beginning of its term to "improve and stabilize the workplace
The number of workplace accidents has been in steady decline
since 2003, while casualties per million tons of coal have dropped
from 4.94 percent to 1.48 percent over the past five years, Li
But he said the situation remains severe, with the annual death
toll above 100,000.
In the past five years, authorities have closed 11,155 small
coal mines and spent more than 83 billion yuan on upgrading safety
technology and equipment.
In a bid to further reduce the number of casualties, 5,000 more
mines will be closed by 2010, and production will be reduced by 200
"But shifting from resources-fueled economic development to high
efficiency economic growth is the fundamental way to improve work
safety," Li said.
Li said authorities will also investigate reports of an alleged
coverup of the deaths of at least 10 workers during the
construction of Beijing's main Olympic stadium.
British newspaper The Sunday Times said at least 10 workers have
died building the showpiece National Stadium.
Li said he was unaware of the matter.
"This is the first time I have heard of such an incident
"I will instruct the Beijing work safety administration to
"If there was such an accident, those responsible will face
punishment," he said.
(China Daily January 23, 2008)