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New rules to tackle construction deaths
By Wu Yixue (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-29 06:38

Lack of safety awareness among migrant construction workers and inferior equipment are the two biggest safety threats to China's booming construction sector, officials said yesterday at a seminar in Beijing.

Last year there were 1,144 construction-related accidents nationwide, resulting in a total of 1,324 deaths, down 11.46 per cent and 13.12 per cent respectively from 2003.

Of the construction site accidents in 2004, 42 resulted in the deaths of three or more workers and were classed as major accidents, a fall of 12.5 per cent from the previous year.The 42 major accidents claimed 175 lives, an 18.6 per cent decrease.

However, the number of construction related accidents is still considered to be too high.

From January to March this year, there were 150 accidents on construction sites across China, resulting in 184 deaths.

"Lack of safety awareness among construction workers, especially migrants,is a major factor behind the high number of accidents," said Lin Yisheng, deputy director of the Department of International Co-operation under the State Administration of Work Safety.

He made the remarks at a seminar jointly organized by the administration, the Ministry of Construction and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work, which falls on April 28 every year.

China has nearly 40 million construction workers, more than 80 per cent of which are migrants, most of whom have had no safety training.

"Inferior safety equipment is another major factor in construction-accidents," said Sha Xiaolin, a board director of the Shanghai-based Linzheng Safety Equipment Co.

To reduce costs and pursue maximum profits, many construction employers arm their workers with cheap poor-quality safety equipment, he said.

Currently the construction sector is the third biggest industrial killer in China, behind the transport and mining industries.

But with construction booming, authorities now face a tough task to enforce regulations and reduce accidents in the sector.

The government has taken some concrete measures, such as promulgation of a law on work safety, a law on prevention and control of occupational disease, and the regulation of work safety management. It is promoting innovation in the safety supervision system and has set up a transparent system to hold those responsible for accidents to account.

(China Daily 04/29/2005 page2)

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