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Prevention key to lowering accidents
(China Daily by Jiang Zhuqing)
Updated: 2004-02-20 23:31

China's top work safety authority has shifted its approach to accident prevention.

The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) ordered all regions, units and departments to shift their focus from aftermath treatment to prevention.

"Ignoring work safety is to overlook the life and fundamental interest of people and cannot be allowed by the law," said Wang Xianzheng, head of the SAWS, during a televised conference organized by the Work Safety committee of the State Council Friday.

The committee will also organize supervision groups to conduct random examinations in major regions, he said.

This year's workplace safety situation has been mixed, said Wang, who is also the vice-director of the State Council's committee.

Ongoing efforts to establish long-term safety mechanisms and improve infrastructure led to a reduction in the number of accidents reported in factories and mines this year.

There have been, however, a growing number of extraordinarily severe accidents in public places, Wang said.

There were 27 severe incidents in which more than 10 people died. Of those, 26 took place in public places and killed 382 people, he said.

For example, two fires in a shopping centre in Northeast's Jilin Province and in East China's Zhejiang Province last Sunday resulted in 53 and 40 deaths respectively.Just two weeks earlier, 37 people were killed in a stampede during a Lunar New Year festival in Beijing.

Bai Jingfu, vice-minister of public security, said local police will co-ordinate with governments at all levels to conduct work safety and fire control inspections on mass-gathering places, skyscrapers, underground projects and places where dangerous chemical products are stored.

The situation was not that much better on the waterways.

In January, 28 separate accidents resulted in 24 deaths. Some 16 ships sank, resulting in direct financial losses of 19.6 million yuan (US$2.4 million), said Hong Shanxiang, vice-minister of communications.

Hong said his ministry sent four groups to conduct on the spot safety checks in southern and eastern China, the Yangtze River valley and Bohai Bay since mid-January.

China's work safety authorities have decided to tighten their control by changing supervision measures. The aim is to reduce deaths from accidents in 2004 by 2.5 per cent, reported Xinhua.

The new standards for work safety will help confirm the responsibility system of the governments at all levels, said Wang. The quota of reduction in deaths from accidents should be distributed to governmental departments and related enterprises according to the system.

He said the SAWS will release the details of the work safety situation every three months through means of press conferences, governmental publications and news briefings.

Administrations at all levels should adopt tighter measures to make departments and enterprises responsible for serious work safety situations, and those held responsible for calamities should be brought to justice in accordance with the law, said Wang.

To prevent and reduce accidents from the root, Wang urged work safety supervision departments to strictly implement the recently-adopted regulations on work safety permits.

In addition, necessary campaigns should be launched to publicize work safety issues and to further improve workplace safety, said officials at the conference.

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