China / Society

Tough new work safety law proposed

By AN BAIJIE ( Updated: 2014-02-27 21:53

A draft amendment to a workplace safety law would significantly increase punishments for companies that violate regulations.

The amendment is part of the government's latest effort to improve conditions for workers.

Among other rules, the draft proposes that companies be fined up to 1 million yuan ($163,000) if they use uncertified safety equipment in high-risk industries such as mining and dangerous goods storage. The current fine is 50,000 yuan.

The draft, which was brought forward by the State Administration of Work Safety, was reviewed for the first round by the legislators during the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress that ended on Thursday.

In China, a draft law usually goes through three rounds of reviews before being adopted.

Under the draft rule, work safety authorities would set up a database of infractions by companies, and offenders could face restrictions on land use, investment and bank services. If a company does not comply with regulations, authorities could cut its electricity and force it to carry out its work safety duties.

Emergency rescue teams should be established in key industries to improve response to accidents, according to the draft.

Yang Dongliang, chief of the State Administration of Work Safety, told legislators on Tuesday that the current work safety law, formulated in 2002, should be improved to address ongoing safety problems.

Supervision has not been effective enough, and the number of serious accidents remains large, Yang said.

Last year, there were more than 270,000 accidents in which 2,549 people died, according to the administration.

The number of cases fell by 8.2 percent and deaths by 3.5 percent, compared with 2012.

The amendment would provide more effective legal protection of workers, Yang said.

Huang Yi, spokesman for the administration, said on Feb 18 that the death rate for every million metric ton of coal produced last year was 0.288, 10 times higher than the death rate in developed countries.

Liu Tiemin, a professor of work safety at the China Academy of Safety Science and Technology, said the amendment should specify the government's duties in detail.

The current law is vague, which will hamper enforcement, Liu said.

On Nov 22, a pipeline blast caused by an oil leak in Qingdao, Shandong province, claimed 62 lives. The explosion was China's deadliest pipeline blast since 2005.

Sixty-three people were penalized for the accident, 48 punished for violating Party and administrative discipline and 15 others transferred to judicial organs on suspicion of criminal acts, Xinhua News Agency reported.


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