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Occupational Safety in China’s Coal Mining Industry: The Roles of Regulations, Human Resources, and Labor Relations

Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations

ISBN: 978-1-83909-192-6, eISBN: 978-1-83909-191-9

ISSN: 0742-6186

Publication date: 19 November 2019


This chapter presents a theoretical framework of the industrial relations (IR) system in China’s coal mining industry, combining the roles of management organizations, workers, and trade unions, as well as government agencies. It is one of the first empirical attempts to investigate the relationship between human resource (HR) practices, labor relations, and occupational safety in China’s coal mining industry over the past 60 years, based on the secondary data on coal mining accidents and case studies of two state-owned coal mines in a northern city in Anhui Province, China. The fluctuating occupational safety has been affected by government regulations over different time spans, marked by key political agendas, and by coal mining firms taking concrete measures to respond to these regulations, while exhibiting differing safety performance in state-owned versus township-and-village-owned mines. The field studies compared a safety-oriented to a cost-control-oriented HR and labor relations system, and their influences on safety performance. Coal mining firms and practitioners are advised to shift the traditional personnel management paradigm to a modern HR management system. In addition, although workers are often blamed directly for accidents, it is suggested that workers’ participation and voice in various processes of decision-making and policy implementation, and trade unions’ active involvement in protecting workers from occupational hazards, be encouraged.



Cai, Y. (2019), "Occupational Safety in China’s Coal Mining Industry: The Roles of Regulations, Human Resources, and Labor Relations", Advances in Industrial and Labor Relations (Advances in Industrial & Labor Relations, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 119-152.



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