Rivermate | China flag


Health and Safety Standards

Explore workplace health and safety laws in China

Health and safety laws

China's health and safety framework is multifaceted, encompassing various laws and regulations. The core legislation includes the Work Safety Law of 2002, which establishes the overarching framework for safety and health. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of employers, workers, and government bodies in ensuring a safe work environment. The law mandates employer obligations such as providing safety training, maintaining safe working conditions, and emergency preparedness measures. Workers are entitled to refuse work deemed unsafe and receive compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Core Legislation

The Law on Prevention and Control of Occupational Diseases of 2001 specifically addresses occupational illnesses. It establishes a system for identifying and cataloging occupational diseases, outlining preventative measures employers must take, and providing for worker medical examinations and compensation for diagnosed occupational illnesses.

Additional Supporting Laws

Other supporting laws include the Labor Law of 1994, which defines fundamental worker rights, including rights related to safety and health. The Labor Contract Law of 2008 provides regulations regarding the employment contract, including stipulations on safety and health training and working conditions. The Law on Safety in Mines of 2010 focuses on ensuring safety in the mining industry, a sector with inherent risks. The Fire Protection Law of 1998 establishes fire safety regulations for workplaces. The Emergency Response Law of 2007 outlines guidelines for emergency preparedness and response procedures in workplaces. The Criminal Law of 1979 includes provisions for criminal penalties in cases of severe workplace accidents resulting from negligence or deliberate violation of safety regulations.

Importance of Standards

Beyond these primary laws, China enforces a comprehensive set of national and industry-specific standards that provide detailed technical guidance on various safety aspects. These standards are crucial for ensuring practical implementation of the legal framework. It's important to note that this legal landscape is constantly evolving, and staying updated on amendments and new regulations is essential.

Occupational health and safety

China has made significant strides in improving occupational health and safety (OHS) in recent decades, but challenges remain. The cornerstone of OHS in China is the Work Safety Law enacted in 2002 and revised in 2014. This law outlines the rights and responsibilities of workers, employers, and government agencies regarding workplace safety.

Key provisions of the Work Safety Law include:

  • Employer responsibility to provide a safe work environment and necessary training.
  • Employee right to refuse unsafe work and report safety hazards.

Regulatory Bodies

Several government agencies are responsible for enforcing OHS regulations, including:

  • The Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) – the primary OHS enforcement agency.
  • National Health Commission (NHC) – oversees occupational health issues.

Standards and Norms

China adopts national OHS standards alongside industry-specific ones. These standards are developed by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) and address various aspects like:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Machine safety
  • Chemical handling

Practices and Challenges

While a legal framework exists, enforcement can be uneven, particularly in smaller enterprises. Here are some ongoing challenges:

  • Workforce Size: China's large and diverse workforce makes effective implementation a complex task.
  • Focus on Accident Prevention: Occupational disease prevention requires more focus, with pneumoconiosis from dust exposure being a major concern.
  • Emerging Issues: Addressing psychological problems caused by work stress is a growing concern.

Workplace inspection

Workplace inspections in China are crucial for ensuring worker safety and compliance with labor regulations. These inspections are carried out by various government agencies, depending on the industry and specific focus.

Inspection Criteria

Workplace inspections in China typically focus on several key criteria:

  • Work Safety: This is a primary concern, and inspectors will assess compliance with regulations regarding machinery safety, hazardous materials handling, fire safety, and emergency preparedness.
  • Labor Conditions: Inspectors will examine working hours, wages, overtime regulations, and adherence to social insurance contributions for employees.
  • Environmental Protection: Industries with potential environmental hazards will be inspected for pollution control measures, waste management practices, and adherence to environmental regulations.

Additional considerations include specific industry regulations that may apply, with additional criteria for inspections depending on the sector, such as construction or chemicals. Trade unions may also participate in inspections, representing worker concerns.

Inspection Frequency

The frequency of workplace inspections in China can vary depending on several factors:

  • Industry: High-risk industries like mining or construction may face more frequent inspections.
  • Previous Violations: Businesses with a history of safety or labor violations may be subject to closer scrutiny.
  • Nationwide Campaigns: The government may launch targeted inspection campaigns focusing on specific hazards or industries.

Types of inspections include:

  • Scheduled Inspections: These are routine inspections conducted by government agencies based on pre-determined plans.
  • Unannounced Inspections: These can occur at any time to ensure workplaces are consistently maintaining compliance.
  • Special Investigations: These are triggered by accidents, complaints, or reports of potential violations.

Follow-Up Actions

The outcome of a workplace inspection will determine the follow-up actions:

  • Compliance: If no violations are found, the inspection report will document the findings.
  • Rectification Orders: For minor violations, inspectors may issue rectification orders outlining corrective actions and deadlines for compliance.
  • Fines and Penalties: Serious violations can result in fines, penalties, or even production stoppages until safety hazards are addressed.
  • Criminal Charges: In cases of severe accidents or deliberate violations, criminal charges may be pursued against company officials.

Workplace accidents

Workplace accidents in China are addressed through a framework that emphasizes reporting, investigation, and compensation. The reporting of workplace accidents is mandated and follows a tiered system based on severity. All work accidents resulting in death, serious injury, or property damage exceeding a certain value must be reported to local work safety authorities within a specific timeframe. Accidents with significant casualties or widespread social impact may require reporting to provincial or national work safety authorities. The employer is responsible for submitting the accident report, which should include details like the cause, consequences, and any emergency response measures taken.

Investigation Processes

After the report, a workplace safety investigation is initiated. The process typically involves an internal investigation where the employer forms a team to examine the accident scene, gather evidence, and interview witnesses. Work safety authorities may conduct their investigation, potentially including technical inspections and witness interviews. Complex or high-profile accidents might involve a joint investigation by the employer and government authorities. The goal of the investigation is to determine the cause of the accident, identify any responsible parties, and propose corrective measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Compensation Claims

Injured workers and families of those fatally injured have the right to claim compensation. The type and amount of compensation depend on the severity of the injury or death. Compensation can include coverage for medical treatment related to the workplace accident, income replacement for workers with permanent disabilities, and financial support for families of workers who die from work-related injuries or illnesses. In situations where the employer is deemed responsible for the accident due to negligence or violation of safety regulations, the employee might pursue additional compensation through litigation.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.