"Mass mercury poisoning at China factory: report - Thu, Jan 07, 2010 AFP
BEIJING, Jan 7, 2010 (AFP) - Over 150 workers at an electrical factory in southern China have tested positive for suspected mercury poisoning, state press said Thursday, in the latest work-safety scandal to hit the nation.
"All six production lines used liquid mercury but some workers do not bothered to wear mask" said the HR Manager.
China work-safety record is notorious, and thousands of people died every year in mines, factories and on construction sites, according to official sources.
Pollution-related health scares are also common in China, where an emphasis on economic growth over the past three decades has led to widespread disregard for environmental protection.
State press routinely report on increasing angry protests over this issue."
A dilemma China has to resolve. While any neglect that led to loss, or endangerment, of life must not be tolerated. It is a natural process, unfortunately, especially when the conventional wisdom of 'balancing the economic benefits vs. the costs' is skewed towards benefits!. It seems stupid and illogical to place economic benefits above human life. Yet, this is how most, if not all, developing countries go through. Even though many governments have many precedents that 'this SHOULD NOT be the way to go as the COST is too high!' as reference.
Lessons for me are:
1. responsible entrepreneurs and businessmen need to take the lead to provide the safety apparatus for the workers as the minimal. Train and get them to use the safety equipments without exception;
2. the workers, while many are not very educated, should at least know that their health and life is at stake. This is not, as Singlish would have it: 'something to "play play" i.e. 'something not to be taken lightly'. Yes. I have heard or learned that the workers felt inconvenient from using the equipments. This MUST NOT be entertained. This is just an excuse! People like to keep to their old way. This is where leadership steps in!! Persuade them with reasons, pros and cons, references of the bad consequences - to themselves and their loved ones too. When all else failed, exercised leadership prerogative - DICTATE the term: if you want to work here, this is how it will be done!;
3. as long as the press is reporting these unfortunate incidents. And as long as the entrepreneurs and businessmen and management are not at fault, there is still hope to get these tragedies down. The worry is the 'capitalists' are the ones who disregard safety rules and equipments and practices. For these culprits, the penalty must be severe so as to make sure that no one will want to try his or her luck in causing such a work-related safety issue.
Move forward China. Do the right things so that the prosperity created can be long lasting and not just for a few decades only!!