In what is being called an unprecedented decision, the Chinese cabinet has suspended the job of a vice-governor of Liaoning Province due to the deaths of 214 miners in a huge gas explosion earlier this month, according to China Daily.

Liu Guoqiang, 52, became the first ministerial government official to lose his job since the State Council implemented the "take the blame and resign" system to help reduce workplace injuries and deaths.

"Take the blame and resign" is an initiative introduced by the central government in a State Council regulation in April 2004 that puts responsibility for major accidents on officials in charge.

"It's an unprecedented decision," said Huang Shengchu, president of the China Coal Information Institute, referring to Liu's suspension from office. He also said the suspension will "shock some local officials and coal mine owners" who lack in work safety awareness and are preoccupied with earning money.

In 2004 alone, more than 6,000 people were killed in mine accidents across China.

In a related move, China’s State Council has elevated its vice-ministerial-level work safety administration to become a cabinet-level department.

Additionally, the central government has decided to invest 3 billion yuan (US$361 million) this year to improve work safety in key state-owned coal mines.