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China workplace deaths fall to 38,000 in 2017: report

According to the official Xinhua news agency, China’s coal sector - once notoriously unsafe - saw 375 fatalities in 2017, down 28.7% on the year.

Workers search through the remains of a collapsed platform in a cooling tower at a power station at Fengcheng in China's Jiangxi province on 24 November, 2016. Picture: AFP.

SHANGHAI – The number of deaths caused by workplace accidents in China fell 12.1 percent to 38,000 in 2017 compared to the previous year, state media reported on Tuesday, citing figures from the country’s safety watchdog.

But fines for work safety violations rose 58% in the year to around 3.3 billion yuan ($521.10 million), the official China Daily reported, quoting the Minister of the State Administration of Work Safety Wang Yupu.

Wang said more than 4.6 million onsite inspections were conducted last year, but warned China faced growing pressures in the workplace with around 43 million people traveling to work every day and one billion tonnes of hazardous chemical substances transported each year.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, China’s coal sector - once notoriously unsafe - saw 375 fatalities in 2017, down 28.7% on the year.

Following a series of nationwide campaigns against illegal mining, the number of deaths in the coal sector has fallen steadily from a peak of nearly 5,000 in 2003.

A recent campaign against overcapacity in the sector has also helped boost safety, with a total of 6,100 small-scale mines shut down over the course of 2017.

Huang Yuzhi, head of China’s State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, warned that around 28% of China’s total coal mines still had annual production capacity of less than 90,000 tonnes, and were therefore more accident prone.

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