China Insists It Is Working to Reduce Mining Fatalities

Nov. 21, 2001
While progess has been made, "due to a weak foundation of workplace safety, the picture is still pretty grim," government spokesman admits.

Gas explosions in coal mines claimed the lives of nearly 60 miners in four incidents in recent weeks, but China''s State Administration of Work Safety insists it is not slacking in its duties.

Spokesman Huang Yi says the government has closed some 11,000 small, unsafe mines and is holding mine owners and local governments accountable for unsafe working conditions and injuries to employees. The government estimates that there are more than 20,000 small mines still in operation, and half have inadequate safety programs.

China, which has been admitted to the World Trade Organization, portrays itself as a country committed to workplace safety and health, despite its abysmal record.

"Due to a weak foundation of workplace safety, the picture is still pretty grim, and there are still some serious accidents," Huang admits, adding, "It is fair to say that China''s work safety situation has improved."

Two of the explosions occurred in the province of Shanxi, and the government has ordered all small mines shut down in the province for safety inspections. All of the mines where the explosions occurred were operating illegally, having been ordered by the government to close because of their small capacity and poor safety programs and records, a government official says. That same official notes that coal prices are on the rise, "so mine owners turned deaf ears to government owners."

The Xinhua News Agency, China''s official news organization, says at least 12 miners stranded underground in one of the Shanxi accidents had contacted rescuers and are believed to be alive.

by Sandy Smith

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EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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