After iPad plant blast China urges safety

Chinese officials urge companies to reevaluate safety measures in plants across country

07/15/2011


Companies must ensure safety in their mainland China factories after a fatal blast at a plant that makes Apple iPads, Chinese officials said.

An explosion at a plant owned by Foxconn Technology Group, Apple’s main manufacturing contractor, recently killed three employees. Foxconn blamed combustible dust in a workshop that polishes products and suspended production at the factory in Chengdu.

“We hope Foxconn and other Taiwan-invested enterprises can learn from this, carry out their safety responsibilities, strengthen internal inspection and management, root out hidden dangers in a timely way and ensure safe production,” said Fan Liqing, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

“We have a shared commitment with the government to doing everything possible to ensure the health and safety of all Foxconn workers,” Foxconn said in a statement.

Taiwanese companies have invested billions of dollars in the mainland despite their government’s lack of formal ties with Beijing, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory.

Fan said the Chengdu explosion was a “production safety incident” but gave no details.

Foxconn, a unit of Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., manufactures mobile phones, computers and other products under contract for Apple Inc. and other global brands such as Hewlett Packard Inc. The company employs an estimated 1 million to 1.1 million people in China at a series of huge factory campuses.

Foxconn produces the iPad 2 in Chengdu and at its flagship China manufacturing campus in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong.

In an environment where unplanned downtime costs the company lost profits, Foxconn has not said how iPad 2 production might be affected, but research firm IHS iSuppli said lost output might total 500,000 units. Right now Apple is having a hard time keeping up with the strong demand.