China safety rules questioned after deadly fire

Report of 119 deaths in poultry plant blaze brings new concerns about worker safety


The human impact of a fire at a Chinese poultry processing plant Monday was devastating. At least 119 people were reported dead and another 54 were reported injured by a fast-moving fire at the plant in Mishazi, a town in the northeastern province of Jilin.

Compliance with safety in China also may be impacted. The BBC is reporting that the continuing issue of ignored safety rules in outlying Chinese providence is a issue that the central government has not been able to completely address.

The BBC reports that the Chinese Safety Bureau reported that more than 1,100 workers died as a result of more than 125,000 fire accidents in 2011. The news agency quoted a spokesman for the China Labour Bulletin as saying there has been some improvement in China safety standards, but not enough to stem the tide of such accidents.

“Over the past 10 years there has been some improvement (in accident prevention), although there is certainly no real culture of safety in Chinese workplaces," Geoffrey Crothall of the China Labour Bulletin told the BBC. “Safety, unfortunately, still comes second to productivity and profits. There are, unfortunately, deaths at coal mines and factories pretty much every day, but no one pays attention when it is one or two people.”

The China-run Xinhua News Agency quoted a worker at the plant that the plant’s gates were locked. “Suddenly, the lights inside went out and the plant got quite dark,” the worker told the news agency in a report on “When I finally ran out and looked back at the plant, I saw high flames.”

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