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Safety Watchdog Issues Work Safety Regulations

Chinese safety watchdog publicized temporary provisions on uncovering hidden dangers in the workplace on Thursday, another effort to improve the country's work safety conditions.

The provisions promulgated by the State Administration of Work Safety, which would take effect on February 1, 2008, stipulated that any person or unit could report directly to the safety watchdog on spotting potential dangers in the workplace in a timely manner.

The provisions also ordered enterprises and mines to file quarterly and annual work safety reports to the administration. Those who do not provide these reports on time or try to cover up accidents would be named and pay a fine equal or less than 30,000 yuan (US$4,120).

Those enterprises and mines that can not meet the work safety requirements would be closed down, according to the provisions.

Official statistics showed that 5.07 million potential dangers in the manufacturing, mining, business and transportation sectors had been uncovered during check-ups by the end of 2007, 94.4 percent of which had been put into good order.

As the world's largest coal producer, the country had been striving to improve work safety in its accident-prone coal mines. But accidents were still frequent as enforcement was lax and mine owners pushed production beyond safety limits to earn higher profits.

In 2006, China produced 2.4 billion tons of coal. Accidents in small mines with an annual capacity below 300,000 tons each, however, claimed 3,431 lives.

A gas blast on December 29, 2007 at the Shunfa coal mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province killed 19 miners. The administration called on mines and enterprises to draw on lessons from the accident.

Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, abundant in coal resources, closed 273 small coal mines last year and plans to close another 100 small ones this year, according to the provincial safety watchdog.

According to an earlier report of the State Administration of Work Safety, China has closed 10,412 coal mines in the last three years amid efforts to improve workplace safety and to limit use of natural resources.

The administration said it would step up work safety checks and law enforcement especially before and during the coming Spring Festival in February.

(Xinhua News Agency January 11, 2008)

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