China's legislature passed a new law on safety at work at the end of June, China Daily said. The new law, which comes into force on November 1, replaces seven laws and 20 regulations, all of which were partial and applicable only to particular industries. It lays down comprehensive principles that can be applied in all work environments and which cover safety measures, workers' rights and interests, accident investigation and legal liabilities. The State Administration on Workplace Safety is charged with implementing supervision and administrative measures for workplace safety and with drawing up regulations under the law.
The reform came at a time when serious workplace accidents had been in the news for several weeks. Since the beginning of June, serious gas explosions have occurred at two coal mines in Heilongjiang, one at Jixi killing 115 and the second, at Hegang, killing seven – including the mine owner, who had ignored an order to close his mine on safety grounds. Twenty-two deaths resulted from an explosion at a gold mine in Fanshi county in Shanxi province. In this case, the mine owners were found to have attempted to conceal the scale of the incident by removing victims' bodies and dumping them elsewhere. They were arrested after a nationwide publicity campaign.