New legislation being voted on in China makes administrative authorities at all levels responsible for ensuring workplace safety. The legislation passed to a second reading by national legislators recently.
The draft bill requires the government to create a national workplace safety standard, similar in idea to the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the United States. The standard would be updated as technology, science and economic development advanced.
The legislation says that Chinese governments at all levels - most workplaces are operated by local, regional or national government offices or agencies - "should enhance leadership, support and supervise production safety and help solve major problems in a timely manner." The proposed legislation also urges governments to provide proper training and raise worker awareness of safe production.
According to figures from China''s State Economic and Trade Commission, 99,734 people were killed in 860,685 industrial and traffic accidents in the first 10 months of 2001.
During the 27th session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People''s Congress (NPC) last week, Legislator Bai Qingcai blamed the high number of accidents on poor safety awareness and lax safety management.
The Chinese legislators hope the bill reduces the number of accidents, improves the management and supervision of workplace safety, improves the efficiency of rescues and ensures the timely investigation of workplace accidents.
The bill requires local governments to report work-related accidents and organize timely rescue efforts, something many business operators - especially mine owners - fail to do.
by Sandy Smith ([email protected])