Equipment accidents remain a matter of concern

Updated: 2012-08-29 02:23

By ZHENG XIN (China Daily)

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Accidents involving "special equipment" killed 26 people and injured 16 in July, with 10 more deaths compared with that of the same period last year, said the country’s quality supervision authority.

However, accidents and casualties involving special equipment both have seen a year-on-year decline in the first half of 2012, officials said.

Chinese quality supervision departments use the term "special equipment" to describe eight categories of large devices, including pressure vessels, large boilers, elevators, passenger cableways and special vehicles.

A total of 96 accidents involving special equipment killed 89 people in the country during the first half of this year, a year-on-year decrease of 15 percent and 22 percent respectively, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on Tuesday.

"The safety condition of the special equipment remains steady, but unlicensed manufacturing of the equipment and quality issues are still problems," said Liu Hongsheng, an official with the administration.

July witnessed 22 special-equipment accidents, four more than July 2011, according to the administration.

The major causes of the accidents, according to Liu, are irregular operation of the equipment, lack of safety awareness, and lax safety management.

The latest accident involving special equipment took place on Sunday night in Shanxi province, when an explosion destroyed a boiler room in Daixian county.

The accident killed two people and injured six.

The preliminary investigation shows the explosion was caused by dynamite illegally stored in the boiler room.

Accidents involving escalators and elevators are of the most concern to people, as they are the most commonly used special equipment in most people’s daily lives, experts said.

An escalator accident in a subway station in Beijing on July 15 last year, which killed a 13-year-old boy, has drawn public attention to elevator and escalator safety. After the accident, authorities across the country increased their checks on escalators and elevators.

Many Beijing commuters complained that frequent checks and overcaution in bad weather have caused the suspension of escalators in many subway stations, which has been a big inconvenience.

To end special-equipment accidents, the administration said it has strengthened existing measures while cracking down further on those who refurnish scrapped exhaust gas bottles and put the boilers to illegal uses.

Accidents involving such equipment from 2005 to 2010 have led to more than 1,600 deaths across China, according to Wen Shizhen, vice-chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress.

China has more than 50,000 registered manufacturers of special equipment, Wen said on Monday when the NPC Standing Committee, China’s top legislature, started deliberating a draft law on the safety of special equipment.

The purpose of the legislation is to prevent such accidents through an institutional buildup that can stop risks at their source, said Wen.

In addition to strengthening existing supervisory measures, the draft specifies primary responsibilities for manufacturers and operators of special equipment, whose responsibilities are unclear under current rules.

The draft also clarifies the compulsory implementation of technological safety standards, which are applicable to imported special equipment.

A government-monitored recall mechanism for defective equipment is also being proposed in the draft, as well as a voluntary recall provision for manufacturers.

In addition, the draft requires local authorities and equipment operators to create emergency response plans for possible accidents.