Expert worries about coal mine working safety
China's coal mine safety has improved since the 1980s, but frequent accidents and severe occupational diseases remain major problems, according to an expert in northwest China's Liaoning Province.
Zhang Hongwei, professor with the Liaoning Engineering Technology University, told an international coal mine meeting held recently in Shenyang that the economic losses from the coal mine industry's accidents and occupational diseases stood at 4 billion yuan annually.
He said over 3,000 people die each year in China of pneumoconiosis, a disease of the lungs caused by long-continued inhalation of dust. The country currently has 150,000 pneumoconiosis patients.
Also, More than 2,110 people lost their lives in 596 gas explosions in Chinese coal mines in 2003, according to statistics from the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).
Zhang attributed the safety problems to both natural and artificial reasons. Zhang noted that nearly half of China's coal mines have high gas densities or complicated geological structures.
Besides, the technological equipment of mining in China's coal mines is backward, he said. In most mines, especially small ones, traditional mining techniques are still used, and miners have barely any safety facilities.
Zhang also blamed officials for poor management and low safety awareness.
"Some officials paid too much attention to profits, while neglecting safety measures," said Zhang.
Zhang suggested the administrative departments publicize knowledge on work safety to both officials and miners and set up a system to ensure the implementation and monitoring of safety measures.
For those small township coal mines, Zhang suggested the country improve its
supervision and close the illegal ones with a firm hand.