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Workplace accidents down, but more deaths
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-27 22:08

The death toll in workplace accidents throughout China is rising so far this year though accidents dropped slightly with the overall safety situation taking a"turn for the better," a top official said Tuesday in Beijing.

Wang Xianzheng, an official of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), confirmed Tuesday in his latest report that, so far this year, 287,884 accidents of various types have occurred, with 38,189 people killed nationwide.

Although total accidents were 4.1 per cent lower than the same period of last year, the death toll climbed 2.4 per cent.

He attributed the situation to the country's continuous safety inspections, specialized rectifications and the building of a legal system on workplace safety.

Major accidents and deaths were reported from road traffic accidents, coal mines or other industrial sector incidents, trade and commercial enterprise accidents, fires and waterways and railway traffic incidents, according to statistics.

Road traffic accidents remain the top killer, with 30,733 people killed in 167,463 reported cases. Such deaths and accidents accounted for 80.5 per cent and 58.2 per cent of the country's total, respectively, over the past four months.

Coal-related deaths dropped 25 per cent during January-April period with 1,267 deaths reported in 854 registered cases. The total output of coal was up 19 per cent up over the same period the previous year.

Fortunately, extremely serious accidents -- each with a death toll of more than 30 people --dropped.

However, following soaring prices and an increasing domestic demand for chemical products, more serious accidents took place over the past few weeks in that field due to outdated technology, ageing facilities and poor management.

Nine people were killed by a blowout involving chemical products in a factory in Southwest China's Chongqing municipality on April 16.

Three workers were poisoned to death in Maoming, in South China's Guangdong Province, on April 19 after chemicals leaked at a local refinery.

"Such accidents resulted in 23 deaths, the poisonings of 300 others and more than 150,000 people had to be evacuated during emergency operations from April 16 to 24, shocking all of society," Wang disclosed.

Vice-Premier Huang Ju urged all authorities to intensify supervision over the safety of dangerous chemical products fearing such accidents will become a new menace to more and more people.

"Comprehensive measures must be adopted to stop accidents of this sort," Huang told a special conference on work safety held Tuesday in Beijing.

Huang made it clear that "those held responsible for serious calamities will be brought to justice in accordance with the law."

A national rectification should be carried out immediately throughout the country to check the safety of facilities and enterprises processing, storing, transporting, using and treating dangerous chemical products.

While accelerating technical innovation, advanced technology should be adopted to prevent such accidents.

The vice-premier hopes authorities will do a better job in monitoring factors that could lead to potential accidents by developing contingent schemes, emergency rescue operations, and ensure professional quick-response rescue teams are well prepared.

To further increase awareness of work safety, he ordered authorities to intensify professional training, and launch campaigns to publicize safety knowledge.

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