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Target: Cut workplace fatalities
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-17 23:11

The State Administration of Work Safety, China's top work safety watchdog, has set new targets to reduce fatal accidents in dangerous occupations and sectors, such as mining and road traffic.

Officials are seeking to reduce the number of devastating accidents that have caused 10 or more deaths by 5 per cent this year, said Liang Jiakun, the administration's vice-director, at a news conference Monday.

"The national work safety situation last year remained stable as a whole and gained momentum to improve," said Liang. "The accident total held the line and began to drop."

There were 803,571 reported accidents of various kinds last year, causing the deaths of 136,755 people, a decrease of 155,545 cases or 16.22 per cent and a reduction of 315 fatalities or 0.23 per cent, as compared with the previous year, according to the administration.

Statistics indicate that road accidents led all categories.

"The violation of the traffic rules is the major reason behind the occurrence of these traffic accidents," said Wang Jinbiao, vice-director of the Administration of Communications under the Ministry of Public Security, during an interview last week.

For example, speeding reckless driving, poor road conditions and over-loaded vehicles have led to frequent accidents, Wang noted.

China is striving to lower the growth rate of deaths from road accidents by 1.5 per cent this year, said Liang.

Despite of the improvement in work safety, the overall situation is still grave, considering of the total death toll.

In the coal mining industry, China reported a total of 3,639 fatal incidents last year, with a death toll of 6,027, making it the second dangerous sector.

"During the fourth quarter of last year, devastating (mining) accidents occurred one after another," said Liang.

To reverse the situation, China has set targets this year to reduce fatalities in industrial, mining, and commercial/trading enterprises by 2 per cent, including a 3 per cent decrease in coal mine fatalities, Liang said.

"We will also try to eliminate any single coal mine accident causing 100 fatalities or more," he said.

To achieve the goal, Liang said China will work hard on the prevention of gas outburst and improve safety conditions at mines.

"We will suspend or close down any mines that fail to meet safety standards, and guard against capacity-exceeding production activities," said Liang. "Mines with any record of gas outbursts must rectify matters in strict accordance with safety standards."

"China will accelerate the building of an emergency rescue system and establish a national command centre," said the official. "A work mechanism will be in place featuring free flow of information and quick response when emergencies occur."

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