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Energy sector facing more safety inspections

By Xu Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-08 07:46

China's work safety watchdog will step up checks and supervision in the energy sector, including coal mines, and oil and gas production and transportation, as rising energy prices drive up the motivation for illegal production.

The country saw five major work safety incidents, including four involving coal mines, in the past three months, with at least 179 people losing their lives, according to the State Administration of Work Safety.

In the wake of the incidents, the authority said at a work conference on Monday that it will crack down on illegal coal mine production and activities that exceed designated mine capacity, and step up the phasing out of small coal mines to prevent major accidents, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

The country's intensified effort to cut overcapacity has led to huge rises this year in bulk commodity prices, especially for thermal coal.

The rising price has fueled illegal production in some areas, with some local authorities and companies failing to conduct timely safety checks and assume work safety responsibilities, the watchdog said on its website on Wednesday.

The fact that China's overall economic situation is picking up, coupled with rising energy demand in winter, has resulted in the restoration of factory activities and overloaded production.

"We are expecting even bigger pressure for work safety in the coming period," the authority said in the statement.

The recent major coal mine incidents were all cases involving gas explosions and have been found to have violated work safety regulations, the watchdog said. At least 86 miners were killed in recent incidents in Chongqing, Heilongjiang province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

In another incident, 74 workers were killed and two injured after a work platform in an unfinished cooling tower collapsed in Fengcheng, Jiangxi province, on Nov 24. The incident is the most deadly of its kind in the country's electric power construction industry.

The authority said it will also strengthen the patrolling and supervision of closed and suspended mines, and set up strict standards for reopening mines.

It also warned of road safety hazards and the transportation of dangerous chemicals in the winter, which could be vulnerable to blizzards, fog and cold snaps.

According to the authority, the country saw 4,804 work safety incidents in November, which led to the deaths of 3,479 people. The number of incidents and that of people killed were down by 4.5 percent and 6.3 percent year-on-year.

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