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Workplace safety

China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-17 08:41

While a stricter law would be instrumen-tal in stemming workplace safety violations, local governments must fulfill their regulatory obligations to prevent the occurrence of accidents.

The State Administration of Work Safety has launched a nationwide campaign that will last more than three months in an attempt to check potential safety risks.

Such a campaign is necessary given a series of fatal workplace safety accidents recently, including the blaze in a poultry-processing factory in Jilin province that killed 120 people.

Such a campaign-based methodology, however, is far from adequate since it is not sustainable and cannot deliver successful daily monitoring.

A stricter law and better fulfillment of the regulatory duties by local governments would play a better role in stemming the tide of fatal accidents.

The Supreme People's Court on Wednesday said that people violating workplace safety rules should be severely punished in accordance with law. It stipulated several scenarios in which stricter punishments should be applied, which rightly tackle the root causes of many workplace accidents in China.

Loopholes in safety management are often found to be the underlying cause of workplace accidents. For example, the Work Safety Administration has made it clear that lax enforcement of the safety regulations by the management and the local government's failure to carry out its regulatory role were the main causes of the deadly fire in Jilin.

Imposing stricter punishments on those responsible may force relevant government departments and enterprises to take workplace safety seriously. Adopting sterner punishments rather than resorting to campaigns will better solve the problem, so long as the law is not abused to cause any injustice.

But the law alone cannot prevent workplace accidents. Workplace safety plays second fiddle to economic gains in some places, since it does not contribute directly to the local economy. Some local governments, therefore, opt to turn a blind eye to the safety problems at enterprises whose investment has helped expand local output and tax figures. Better economic performance, in turn, helps the promotion of local officials.

The career performance assessment of officials, therefore, must be improved to make them more accountable for workplace safety.

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