The explosions in a warehouse in north China's Tianjin on August 12 have once again placed China's work safety regulation under the spotlight.
Previous to the tragedy, a string of work safety accidents had occurred across China, causing grave casualties. Many factors are to blame for this situation, including the inaction of related government departments, dereliction of duty on behalf of some officials, flawed laws and regulations and a lack of corporate social responsibility. However, these problems are not without their solutions.
Many may still remember the state of China's coal mining industry several years ago. Owing to the frequent occurrence of accidents, which led to a large number of deaths, China was once criticized for having the world's deadliest coal mines. In an industry-wide overhaul between 2008 and 2010, a large number of small pits with inadequate safety facilities were shut down. In addition, efforts were made to sever ties between officials and coal mining bosses. Thanks to these measures, the number of safety accidents in coal mines has declined considerably from then on.
However, in contrast to the much-improved safety record in the coal industry, workplace accidents in the chemical industry have seen a staggering increase. This year alone, there have been five major accidents involving explosions of hazardous chemicals across China. According to investigations by work safety authorities and media outlets, their causes are similar to those underlying the accidents in the coal mining sector a few years ago, for example, some officials turning a blind eye to the violation of safety rules owing to their close ties with the businesses involved.
China already has stringent and comprehensive laws and regulations governing work safety, but their enforcement should be further tightened.
The government should also thoroughly fulfill its duties in ensuring work safety. Departments and officials involved in safety accidents must be held accountable in accordance with the law in order to prevent tragedies such as the blasts in Tianjin from ever happening again.
It is necessary to cultivate a sense of work safety in officials and a nationwide law-enforcement operation to monitor safety should be carried out as a matter of urgency.