By Yan Jie
BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Premier Wen Jiabao has asked the country's mining bosses to work below ground beside miners in pits while they direct excavations in the latest effort to raise safety standards.
At a State Council meeting on Wednesday, Wen lamented the nation's "serious" work safety situation and the frequent occurrence of large-scale industrial accidents, according to a press release posted on the cabinet's website.
He said mine managers should share the risks with miners as a way of ensuring that companies more closely observe safety rules.
"Enterprise leaders should work on-site shifts in rotation, while coal mine and non-coal mine leaders should work shifts and descend into mine pits with workers," he said.
The order is intended to remind mine directors to troubleshoot potential safety hazards in a timely manner, which it is hoped will help prevent more miners from dying in disastrous accidents, according to the release.
"It's the first time that the State Council makes it clear to the mine chiefs," said Li Haowen, a publicity official with the State Administration of Work Safety, the national safety watchdog.
All workers are also required to receive training before they descend into mining pits, the release said.
Along with the mining industry, Wen demanded that work safety standards be improved in the transportation, construction, chemical and metallurgy industries.
According to the release, technical facilities and safety equipment are to become mandatory in pits.
It also warns that tougher punishments will be imposed on mining enterprises and directors found to be responsible for tragic accidents.