China, US agree to cooperate on mine safety
Beijing (AFP) March 11, 2011
China, which saw more than 2,400 deaths in colliery accidents last year, on Friday agreed to swap health and safety experiences with the United States in a bid to improve conditions for miners.
The two countries launched a programme that will see Chinese and US experts share best practices on issues such as mine emergency response, ventilation and prevention of the lung disease pneumoconiosis, according to the US embassy.
A Chinese delegation will travel to the United States at the weekend to kick off the programme with a fact-finding mission on mine safety technology, it said.
"Both of our countries have learned a lot in the past years about the importance of ensuring safe working conditions and health for miners," US Ambassador Jon Huntsman said in a statement.
"These lessons have been hard won, often through tragedy. But more work remains to be done to continue preventing major mining accidents and occupational disease," he said.
"The time has come to work together."
China's mines are known for being among the deadliest in the world because of lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency. Last year, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents, according to official figures.
But labour rights groups say the actual death toll is likely much higher, partly because of the under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses.
The government has repeatedly called for better safety standards. In its latest campaign last year, it implemented a policy that requires six kinds of safety systems to be installed in all coal mines within three years.
Premier Wen Jiabao has also ordered mining bosses to work side-by-side with miners in the pits as a way of ensuring that companies more closely observe safety rules.
The United States has a far better track record in mine safety, but fatal accidents still occur.
In April last year, 29 workers were killed when an explosion ripped through a West Virginia mine in the nation's deadliest mining accident in 40 years.
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Surviving the Pits
Beijing (AFP) Feb 25, 2011
A total of 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China last year, a senior work safety official said Friday, vowing to beef up safety in the nation's notoriously dangerous collieries. The death toll last year was 198 lower than in 2009, Huang Yi, chief engineer and spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, told reporters - but the total still means more than six people ar ... read more
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