China mulls harsher penalties for workplace safety breaches
A draft amendment to the Law on Workplace Safety has been submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, for the first reading.
The draft proposes increasing fines for safety violations, stating that the “principal leading members of a production or business unit” who fail to perform the work-safety control duty as provided for in the law shall receive a fine as much as their annual income if a serious accident happens”.
For serial offenders, their licences will be revoked or they will be banned for life from the industry, said the draft. If their violations constitute crimes, they will face criminal charges.
These developments come in the wake of a gold mine explosion, which trapped 22 workers in China’s northeastern Shandong province on January 10. Rescue work is still ongoing, but two top officials of Qixia city where the mine is located, have been sacked.
Li Bo, deputy mayor which oversees Qixia, said authorities would investigate and “severely punish” those responsible for the accident, which was not reported until 30 hours after the blast, denying rescue teams precious time to reach the workers.
The law has played a significant role in preventing workplace safety accidents and protecting people’s lives and property, said an explanatory note on the draft proposal.
However, it does not fully adapt to new and higher workplace safety demands and amendments are therefore needed to cope with new risks and hazards accumulated over time, said the proposal.
China enacted its workplace safety law in 2002, amending it in 2009 and 2014, according to Xinhuanet.