China: Report shows a notable surge in coal mine accidents in National Work Safety Month

Author: China Labour Bulletin (Hong Kong), Published on: 15 July 2019

“Coal mine accidents on the rise during China’s Work Safety Month”, 11 July 2019

China’s coal mine safety record has come under fire from the official media after 30 miners died and 21 were injured in June, China’s National Work Safety Month. The Coal Mine Safety website listed details of the 12 accidents that had occurred in June and urged the industry to refocus its efforts on accident prevention.

Coal Mine Safety published another report… That report showed that, after four months of relatively few incidents, there was a notable surge in accidents and deaths in June, including two major accidents…

In the five months prior to Work Safety Month, the provincial government in Shanxi, China’s coal heartland, had ordered 82 mines to suspend production after uncovering potential safety hazards. However, three of the 12 accidents recorded in June still occurred in the province, casting doubt on the effectiveness of the government’s inspection and enforcement program.

China’s coal mine safety record has improved substantially over the last 15 years, and last year, for the first time, it recorded fewer than 0.1 deaths per million tons of coal produced. However, as the recent spate of accidents shows, the industry still has a long way to go, not only in terms of accident prevention but in dealing with legacy issues such as the hundreds of thousands of former miners suffering from pneumoconiosis, black lung disease.

In other industries, National Work Safety Month seemed to have little impact. China Labour Bulletin’s Work Accident Map recorded 45 incidents during the month in which at least 46 workers were killed and another 84 injured. There were slightly fewer accidents than usual in the notoriously dangerous construction industry but the sector still accounted for more than a quarter of all the accidents recorded...

Accidents involving motor vehicles accounted for 27 percent of the total, with food delivery and sanitation workers being the most common victims…

Following the massive explosion at the Tianjiayi Chemical Co. pesticide plant near Yancheng in Jiangsu on 21 March, the government demanded much stricter enforcement of safety measures in the chemical industry. However, accidents still occurred on a regular basis…

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