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Safety supervision a dangerous job in China


08:13, January 28, 2013

BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- The transfer of Zhang Genhu, director of the Work Safety Administration of disaster-prone Shanxi Province in north China, to head the local literary federation has stirred controversy.

Although administration officials denied the appointment of its new head on Jan. 10 had any link with the five recent production accidents in 20 days in the country's major industrial province, public doubts still mounted over the move.

The Dec. 31 leak of about nine tonnes of aniline into a river in the province's Changzhi City by Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group contaminated downstream water in neighboring Henan and Hebei provinces, resulting in a water supply crisis. Changzhi authorities were found to have delayed reporting the leak until six days later.

Meanwhile, a subsidiary of the China Railway Tunnel Group purposefully concealed a fatal railway tunnel explosion that occurred on Dec. 25 in Shanxi's Linfen City, killing eight people.

On Jan. 7, seven workers died in a gas explosion in a coal mine in Shanxi's Xiyang County.

While investigations are underway, the change of the province's top safety supervisor proceeded quietly and smoothly. Local authorities said it was a "normal" government reshuffle ahead of the provincial leadership transition at the ongoing local parliamentary session.

However, the reshuffle has actually "saved" the official from a difficult situation caused by the accidents. It is also odd to see a former safety supervisor become head of a literary federation.

Meanwhile, the move ran counter to the country's official accountability mechanism by merely transferring a cadre to an unrelated post without an announcement explaining accountability for the accidents.

As "GDP worship" still dominates some local ruling minds of the world's largest developing nation, work safety supervision becomes of secondary importance and has not been strictly followed.

Although China has strengthened efforts to close unlicensed and small coal mines and enhanced safety measures in other production fields, accidents are still frequent.

Safety supervision is becoming an increasingly dangerous and sensitive post. It is not an easy job in China.

Eleven work safety administration heads have been removed from their posts, demoted or prosecuted during the last six months.

Among them, "Brother Watch" Yang Dacai, head of the Work Safety Administration in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is currently under investigation. He is suspected of corruption after having been found to have a suspiciously expensive watch collection and a large amount of undeclared bank savings,

As production safety concerns life and death, officials in charge must be held accountable for deadly accidents. It shows respect toward life and rule of law.

Local governments should earnestly pursue the Scientific Outlook on Development, which centers on people and the quality of GDP growth.

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