China's top legislature on Thursday adopted an amendment to the Law on Workplace Safety, introducing heavier penalties for workplace safety violations, and also enhancing supervision over emerging business sectors.
Aside from tougher penalties, violators can be fined for each passing day they do not rectify the situation, according to the amendment, which was passed in a session of the 13th National People's Congress and will come into force on Sept 1.
Previously, for example, companies would be fined 20,000 yuan ($3,132) to 50,000 yuan if they failed to rectify a violation before the appointed deadline. Now, the same amounts will be imposed once a violation is found, and if not addressed in a timely fashion, could become much higher.
Guo Linmao, a member of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee, said that authorities overseeing work safety could now choose to "impose the fine consecutively on a daily basis, starting from the second day of the date of ordered correction".
Previously, the maximum fine for a workplace accident stood at 20 million yuan. Now the upper limit has been lifted to 100 million yuan, said Song Yuanming, vice-minister of Emergency Management, during a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Friday.
The amendment also adds provisions concerning changes to workplace safety regulations in emerging sectors, such as the platform or 'gig' economy.
According to the amendment, enterprises in emerging sectors must establish a responsibility system for workplace safety that covers everyone involved.
In cases where a business is not covered by a specific supervising authority, the amendment makes it possible for county and higher levels of governments to designate a government body to oversee work safety.
For example, the governance of Agritainment, a sector that has been gaining popularity across the country, is currently overseen by three government bodies; tourism, catering and rural affairs. The new provisions will prevent the three departments from passing responsibility for oversight to each other, ending what was previously a potential management loophole, Song said.
Enacted in 2002, the law has already been amended twice in 2009 and 2014.
Guo added that despite already playing a significant role in preventing workplace safety accidents and protecting lives and property, the modifications to the law are important, and will ensure that it meets new, higher workplace safety demands.
The amendment is especially necessary because the country has gained much experience in workplace safety governance, and has drawn many lessons from accidents in recent years, he said.