BEIJING - THE country's top work safety watchdog said on Thursday it will extend a crackdown on illegal operations in mines, transport, construction and hazardous chemicals by one month, because of the success it has had so far in reducing industrial accidents.

About half of the major work safety accidents in the past two months resulted from illegal operations, although the number was down from the 75 percent in the April-to-June period, according to the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), which reported the latest figures on Thursday.

A State Council order in July called for SAWS to cooperate with the Public Security and Transport ministries and other central departments in cracking down on unlicensed activities in mines, transport and construction work, hazardous chemicals and metallurgy, from Aug 1 to Oct 30.

Luo Lin, the head of SAWS, said the crackdown will run until the end of November. He reported this at a national conference on Thursday, explaining that the crackdown on problematic companies has helped curb illegal production activities at the local level.

According to SAWS figures for August and September, they dealt with 612,600 cases of illegal operations. As a result, they told 62,500 organizations and companies to halt production and shut down 8,687 unlicensed organizations and companies.

Luo said, however, that the general work safety situation is still "grim" and that whatever progress has been made is uneven.

Work safety still looks grim