China's workplace safety improved in the first half of 2017, with the number of accidents and fatalities both falling, according to data from the country's work safety watchdog.
The State Administration of Work Safety said the number of workplace safety accidents fell 25.4% year on year to 22,400 in the first six months, while related fatalities went down by 17.4% to 16,200.
No "extremely severe accidents" occurred in the first half year, which in China refers to those that cause more than 30 deaths, leave more than 100 severely injured or result in more than CNY100 million yuan (US$15 million) in direct economic losses.
However, the work safety administration said that China reported 113 chemical accidents in the first half of this year. The figure represents a rise of 7.6% from the same period a year ago. They have led to 135 deaths, up by 25%. An official said that the chemical work safety situation in the country remains grim and safety checks need to be overhauled.
Despite regular calls by the government for more focus on work safety, frequent tragedies still occur in the workplace. A lack of safety awareness, poor regulations and lax implementation of safety measures are among the factors leading to accidents. Most of the accidents happened in building sites, coal mines and chemical factories.
Meanwhile, on 31 July, the Communist Party's anti-corruption watchdog said that the head of the work safety administration had been demoted for serious "discipline" problems.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a short statement that Yang Huanning had "seriously violated political discipline and political rules, and on major issues had deviated from party principles". He had also used his position to seek personal benefit, it said without giving details.
He took over at the work safety agency after former chief Yang Dongliang was sacked in the wake of the huge explosions at an explosives warehouse in Tianjin in 2015 that killed around 170 people.