China's basic work-related death compensation award to nearly double to 340,000 yuan

The standard compensation award for work-related injuries and death will be substantially increased next year, the state council announced Monday 26 July.

From 1 January 2011, the basic one-time compensation award for work-related death will be raised from 200,000 yuan to 343,500 yuan. And when funeral expenses and monthly pension payments to the relatives of the deceased are included, the total payment will come to around 618,000 yuan on average.

Spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, Huang Yi, explained that the increases were calculated based on average income growth in China over the last five years. However, the move also reflects a renewed “get tough” approach to mine safety from the central government in the wake of several high profile mine accidents this year.

Huang Yi stated that, in order to improve safety, mines should ensure that at least one manager accompany workers underground for the entire duration of every shift to act as shift leader or foreman. This followed a suggestion from Premier Wen Jiabao earlier this month that mine bosses should be forced to work alongside their employees.

The state council stated in its Notice on Gradually Strengthening Enterprise Production Safety (关于进一步加强企业安全生产工作的通知) that if a management official does not perform their duty as shift leader, they will be considered to be “absent without leave,” and given the maximum punishment allowed, 150,000 yuan. In addition, if an accident occurs when no management-level shift leader is present, the enterprise will be heavily fined. Fines will range from 200,000 yuan for "regular accidents" up to 5 million yuan for accidents with exceptional loss of life - 30 fatalities or more.

And in future, Huang Yi stated, mine managers found to be responsible for major accidents will not be allowed to work as an enterprise manager in any capacity for the following five years.
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