On August 31, 2014 the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress issued the Work Safety Law of the People's Republic of China (Revised 2014) (hereinafter referred to as the "New Work Safety Law"). The amendments involve more than 70 articles focused in three primary areas: 1) the consolidation of work safety responsibility with the enterprise; 2)the consolidation of government regulations; 3) severe punishment for work safety offences.

The Consolidation of Work Safety Responsibility with the Enterprise

    First, for the purpose of establishing and improving work safety rules and systems, the NewWork Safety Law stipulates in Article 7 that trade unions of production and operation entities shall legally organize their workers so as to participate in the supervision of the entity’s work safety and production. Operation entities, on the other hand, shall solicit opinions from their trade unions in formulating or revising rules and systems related to work safety. Article 20, a new article, relates to the withdrawal and use of safe work fees. Article 21 stipulates that mine, metal smelting, construction and road transportation entities as well as the entities engaging in the production, sales, and storage of hazardous substances shall be staffed with full-time work safety management personnel and it encourages other production and operation entities to hire full-time work safety management personnel. The New Work Safety Law also extra stipulates that a production or operation entity shall organize or participate in work safety education and training and truthfully record information on work safety education and training.

    Second, in implementing the consolidation of work safety responsibility with the enterprise, the New Work Safety Law adds Article 22 to clarify the 7 responsibilities of work safety management offices and work safety management personnel of a production or operation entity and the second paragraph of Article 23to entitles work safety management offices and work safety personnel to participate in making operation decisions involving work safety as well as guarantees that the production or operation entity shall not reduce the salaries, benefits, etc… of its work safety management personnel or terminate the labor contracts concluded with them because they performed their duties in accordance with the law.

    Third, the New Work Safety Law stipulates that for metal smelting construction project or aconstruction project for the production and storage of hazardous substances and before these projects are used, construction entities are responsible for securing acceptance of their safety facilities from the appropriate work safety regulatory department before going forward with the project.

Increased Government Authority and Powers

    Article 62 of the New Work Safety Law expands the scope objects and workplaces which the work safety regulatory departments, and other departments responsible for work safety, shall seal up or detain in accordance with the law. It stipulates that these departments shall seal up or detain hazardous substances produced, stored, used, managed, and transported in violation of the law and seal up workplaces where hazardous substances are illegally produced, stored, used, or managed.

    When a department responsible for work safety supervision and administration makes a decision in accordance with the law requiring a production or operation entity with hidden dangers of major accidents to suspend its production or operation or to stop construction or the use of relevant facilities or equipment and the production or operation entity refuses to comply, the department may take compel the entity to comply using such means as notifying relevant entities suspend their electricity or their supply of explosives.

Severe Punishment for Work Safety Offences

    Articles 88 and 110 of the New Work Safety Law increases the punishment and fines for violations of works safety rules and stipulates that the units are responsible for work safety violations. First, the New Work Safety Law stipulates 8 fines for a production or operation entity and the main person-in-charge of a production or operation entity in accordance with the accident and responsibility classification. Second, the New Work Safety Law increases the fines for violations of works safety rules. Third, the Articles 92 and 109 of the New Work Safety Law clarify that if the main person-in-charge is liable for any serious or especially serious work safety accidents, he or she shall never be the main person-in-charge of any production or operation entities in the industry.

    For some companies, especially listed companies, the New Work Safety Law creates a “blacklist system” for work safety violations. For example, Article 75 stipulates that “the departments responsible for work safety supervision and administration shall establish an information database for work safety offences to truthfully record the information on work safety offenses of production and operation entities, and shall publicize any production and operation entity with serious offences to the public, and report the same to the competent industrial departments, competent investment departments, competent land resources departments, securities regulatory authorities and relevant financial institutions.”

The New Work Safety Law went into effect on December 1, 2014.