Youth Daily: Coal Miners Need Right to Refuse to Work in Unsafe Mines

May 9, 2005

Coal miners should be given a larger role in promoting coal mine safety, according to a recent article in the China Youth Daily (CYD). Although many recent Chinese press articles have advocated new safety laws and increased inspections, the CYD article goes much farther by advocating that coal miners be given the right to refuse to go into a coal pit that they consider dangerous.

The article's authors argue that government efforts to improve the quantity and quality of coal mine technicians and inspectors would do little to reduce coal mine accidents. Technicians and inspectors have little power compared to coal mine managers, whose chief goal is profit. On the other hand, the authors say, coal miners would be unlikely to gamble with their own lives when they could choose whether or not a mine should be shut down because of poor safety conditions.

At a Commission Roundtable in December 2004, British coal mine safety experts also stressed that the involvement of the miners themselves is vital to promoting coal mine safety