Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Lack of work-safety culture kills

By Grayson Clarke (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-11 07:43

Major workplace accidents are much like earthquakes or air crashes. For a couple of days they instill in us a sense of fear and good fortune - "There but for the grace of God go I" is a very familiar refrain for those of us from the English speaking regions of the world. And then just as quickly the memory disappears as the news moves on ... until of course the next time.

The next time came around very quickly. On Saturday 44 people were killed and 11 others injured when a tour bus fell into a valley after it crashed into a sports utility vehicle and a pick-up truck along the No 318 national highway in Nyemo County of Tibet autonomous region.

Days ago, the tragic dust explosion in an auto parts factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, which killed at least 75 people and injured nearly 200 on Aug 2, occupied center stage for just 24 hours before an earthquake hit Yunnan province.

There is a difference, though, between workplace accidents and earthquakes and air crashes. Unlike the latter, workplace accidents take place every single hour of every single day in factories, restaurants, mines and above all on roads. The greatest killing fields for workplace accidents are the highways and byways of China where every year the vast majority of about 200,000 road fatalities are caused by company trucks and buses sometimes inadequately maintained or downright unsafe, and usually driven by drivers squeezing the last drop of energy from their tired bodies.

But unlike the big accidents in factories, the authorities can't promise swift investigation and justice in road accident cases.

In fact, the government and the public are almost helpless bystanders to the carnage. Yet the causes of all work accidents and injuries wherever they take place are invariably the same.

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