It has been reported that, over the past decade, there has been continual improvement of occupational safety and health in China. The principle of safe development has been written into the national plan for social and economic development; national OSH policies and programmes have kept pace with social and economic development; a preventive safety and health culture is becoming popular; and good practices on work safety are spreading among organisations as part of a self-regulatory mechanism promoting occupational health and safety excellence for sustainable business development.

In 2014, amendments to the Workplace Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China (Work Safety Law) came into effect. The amendments are reported to be a response by the Chinese government to a number of serious workplace disasters including the Qingdao Oil Pipeline explosion of 2013 which caused 62 fatalities and a large number of serious injuries. The amended law increased the central Government’s regulation and control over workplace safety and aimed to reduce and/or prevent workplace accidents. The amendments strengthened laws against companies and “persons in charge”. Fines were significantly increased. The amended Law applies to all businesses engaged in production and operational activities within Chinese territory. This is the key legislation.

Health and safety covers physical and psychological health. The law states that equipment, tools, appliances and other facilities shall meet the requirements for protecting the physical and mental health of employees.

Companies are prohibited from terminating the employment or reducing the salary or benefits of personnel appointed to manage and monitor workplace safety when the adverse employment action is intended as retaliation for the lawful performance of their job duties.

Companies involved in mining, smelting and the production, selling or storage of hazardous substances are required to inform the authorities of any appointment or dismissal of the company’s workplace safety management personnel.

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