Manager detained over molten steel spill deaths

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 April, 2007, 12:00am

A mid-level manager with a steel company in Liaoning province has been detained over a breach of safety regulations blamed for last week's molten steel spill, which killed 32 workers, a company source said yesterday.

An employee with the Qinghe Special Steel Corp in Tieling said the director of one of the company's workshops where the spill occurred was in police custody in connection with the incident, which also left six workers injured, two critically.

The state-owned steel processing company is designed to produce 210,000 tonnes of steel products a year and employs 870 workers.

Citing a State Administration of Work Safety report, the China News Service said initial investigations had exposed serious safety breaches at the molten steel workshop.

Investigators found the ceiling-mounted workshop crane used to move ladles of molten metal was not up to the standards required under work safety provisions. Managers had flouted work safety precautions by holding a shift-rotation meeting too close to the pouring site.

The spill happened on Wednesday at 7.45am, when a 30-tonne-capacity ladle pouring steel ingots sheared from an iron railing, spilling white-hot, molten steel to the workshop floor two to three metres below. It spread to a team of workers in the shift-rotation meeting, killing 32 and injuring six.

The company source said appropriate compensation had been paid to the injured workers and relatives of the dead; 341,900 yuan was paid to each family that suffered a fatality.

The State Council has set up a special taskforce to look into the incident, and work safety officials from Liaoning province and the State Administration of Work Safety have visited the site.

Work-related accidents last year in the mainland's metal processing industry rose by 28.6 per cent year on year, to 270 - killing 244 workers, a 48 per cent rise.