(Originally published in CLB Issue 50, Sep-Oct 1999)
An official mainland publication on occupational safety and health (OSH)
Anquan Weisheng Bao published national industrial accident figures
in mines and factories occurring in March 1999. In total, the official
figures stated that more than 998 accidents were reported, in which 1,073
people died, 357 were seriously injured and 311 suffered minor injuries.
Total financial losses were stated at Rmb 74,870,000. The report said
that the figures represented an increase of 126% in fatalities compared
to the previous month. (However, February figures will have been influenced
by the Chinese New Year holiday during which companies close down for
two weeks -Ed).
The mining sector dominated with 361 accidents causing 744 deaths and
51 serious injuries. Of those who died, 186 workers were employed by state-owned
mines and 277 were from collectively-owned mines, 125 were from private
mines and 145 from illegal mine shafts. The remaining eleven miners were
from "other" types of mines. In the non-mining sector, there were 637
accidents leading to 329 deaths and 306 serious injuries. Among the fatalities,
170 worker were from state-owned enterprises (SOEs), 52 from collectively-owned
enterprises (COEs), 43 from township and village enterprises (TVEs), 32
from private enterprises and other 32 from "other: enterprises.
(China: Anquan Weisheng Bao 4/6/99)
A conference on OSH in Hunan province reported that there were over 48,000
cases of pneumoconiosis (a lung-related disease linked to dust) in the
province between 1990 and 1997. Approximately 13,000 sufferers have died.
During the 70s, the occupational disease rate was around 1,000 cases each
year but throughout the 1980s there was an annual leap of between 3,000
Of Hunan's 2.5 million workers employed in Hunan's manufacturing sector,
48% come into contact with toxic materials such as lead, benzene, manganese
and arsenic and risk contracting life threatening illnesses. Studies show
that 80% of township and village enterprises (TVEs) contain varying degrees
of occupational hazards and that most workers contracting lung-related
diseases are in their 20s. For example, there are 92 TVEs in the county
of Shaodong and 40.7% of the employees in these factories had contracted
either or were suspected of having lung diseases.
(China: Laodong Dao Bao 5/6/99)