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Work safety key in assessing development

Starting from this year, China is to take the fatality rate per 100 million yuan (US$12.3 million) of GDP and per 100,000 industrial workers as its standard for assessing social and economic development.

Work safety will become an important factor in assessing the achievements of relevant governments, departments and enterprises, said Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).

"Punishments will be meted out to those flouting and violating work safety laws and rules, abusing power for private gain or being neglectful of duties or obligations," Li told a televised conference on Wednesday.

Huang Yi, spokesman of the work safety watchdog, told China Daily yesterday that this suggestion has been written into the proposal for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) for social and economic development.

The proposal is yet to be approved by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, in its annual session, said the spokesman.

At present, the death rate per 1 million tons of coal production as well per 10,000 vehicles is used in statistical analysis of local development in many places, said Huang.

SAWS will take a series of measures in the first quarter of 2006 to prevent big and serious production accidents, said SAWS officials.

"This decision shows that the Chinese Government is paying more attention to work safety," said Zhu Changyou, a programme officer with the International Labour Office Beijing Office, yesterday.

Different from China, many countries in the world use the fatality rate per million working hours to demonstrate work safety levels, said Zhu.

SAWS statistics indicated that a total of 3,341 coal mine accidents were reported in 2005, a year-on-year decrease of 8.2 per cent. 5,986 people were killed, a small number less than a year ago.

To improve its work safety situation, China's coal mining industry should follow a sustainable development strategy, which demands the improvement of management as well as enhanced work safety training for miners, he said.

He also noted that the same attention should be given to the improvement of health conditions, especially among coal miners.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicated that the total number of workers affected with pneumoconiosis disease is 560,000, an annual increase of 10,000. Half of these were miners, said the official.