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Workplace tragedies challenge 'Safe China'

By Xinhua writer Li Laifang (Xinhua)

08:07, June 04, 2013

Photo taken on June 3, 2013 show the burnt poultry slaughterhouse owned by the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Company in Mishazi Township of Dehui City in northeast China's Jilin Province. The death toll from the fire has risen to 119 as of 8 p.m. on Monday. Search and rescue work is under way. (Xinhua/Wang Hao Fei)

>> Speical Coverage: Scores Killed in Massive Poultry Plant Fire

BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) -- A fire that killed 119 workers at a northeast China poultry plant on Monday has once again raised concerns regarding safety in China's workplaces.

The fire in Jilin Province is the latest in a string of work safety accidents that have resulted in heavy casualties this year.

Thirty-three people died in a blast that occurred at an explosives factory in east China's Shandong Province on May 20, while another 28 workers died in a coal mine explosion that happened in southwest China's Sichuan Province on May 11.

Two mine accidents, also in Jilin, killed a total of 53 people two months ago.

Past investigations have shown that poor safety awareness and inadequate supervision caused many of the accidents, despite a repeated emphasis on work safety from the central government.

The accidents are also the result of companies' desire to pursue profit at the cost of safety, as well as the laziness of officials who fail to fulfill their responsibilities.

President Xi Jinping said at a Friday conference that safety is a basic requirement for happiness and health, as well as a fundamental premise for reform and development.

Workplace accidents, food safety violations and rampant environmental degradation have made China less safe to live in. The government has subsequently pushed hard to transform the economy, which has grown rapidly at the cost of excessive pollution and resource consumption.

However, making such a transformation is difficult, particularly in light of the pressure put on local officials to maintain economic growth.

Yet to implement the outlook truly and thoroughly in development is not easy, especially given pressure of local officials to maintain growth.

But the harsh reality is that greater determination and more effective measures must both be realized in order to avoid such tragedies. Both officials and enterprises must forego their desire to line their pockets and shoulder their responsibility to respect and protect human life.

Companies that violate the law and officials who neglect their duties deserve harsh punishment. Regulations should not be put aside and laws should be abided by.

Only by doing this can citizens truly enjoy a happy and healthy life, as well as the fruits of the development they have helped make a reality. The victories that China's leaders have scored so far in reforming the country will be lost if they cannot live up to the people's high expectations.

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