As the number of accidents and fatalities decline in mining, rail transportation and on highways in China, work safety officials vow to take further action to upgrade safety standards in industries that experience more major accidents with many victims.
About 23,500 accidents occurred in China during the first half of the year, a decline of 8.8 percent year-on-year. Those accidents killed 14,100 people, down 5.3 percent, said Yang Huanning, minister of the State Administration of Work Safety, during a news conference on July 28.
Major accidents in which more than 10 people died declined from 59 in 2012 to 38 in 2015, but the average death count increased from 15.6 to 20.2.
Sixty percent of all accidents nationwide, including major ones, occurred in the coal mining industry or on roads. In some regions, 70 percent of the accidents were related either to traffic or mining.
But in recent years, more major accidents have been occurring in other areas not considered key for work safety.
In August last year, a series of explosions tore through a port in Tianjin, claiming the lives of 165 people and causing direct economic losses of 6.8 billion yuan ($1 billion).
On Dec 20, a collapsing hill of construction waste in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, killed 73 people and left another four missing. It also destroyed 33 buildings and resulted in direct economic losses of 881 million yuan.
Yang noted that other major accidents happened at ports, industrial parks, development zones or new urban districts.
As the economy develops, China may lack safety management, especially where different departments overlap, raising the prospect of negligence, Yang said.
Some local government departments fail to stick strictly to their urban plans and related safety standards, and some factories or facilities with higher risk have been located in areas with dense population. The risk of a high death toll is greater in those places, he said.
Yang said that to solve such problems, the administration has been coordinating with related departments to strengthen supervision of new areas and to enact or revise laws and regulations.
He said the government will introduce and implement a handbook for law enforcement related to work safety.
The rapid development of the hazardous chemicals industry has been posing more challenges in work safety, he added.
“The number of enterprises in the hazardous chemicals industry is on the rise, but safety supervision has failed to be upgraded in a timely manner,” he said.
Li Wanchun, head of the administration’s statistics department, said safety standards in the hazardous chemicals industry still need to be upgraded.
“There is a regulation covering hazardous chemicals, but we will suggest enacting a law to enhance safety management in the industry,” he said.