On 2 August 2014 at 7:37 in the morning, a powerful factory blast killed 65 people and injured over 100 others in Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province. The explosion occurred inside a wheel hub polishing workshop owned by Kunshan Zhongrong Metal Products Co. Ltd. An initial probe has indicated that it may have been caused by dust inside the workshop.
Workplace safety experts in the city believe that even if there had been no explosion, the workers’ health might have been harmed due to lax supervision over occupational safety and health.
The Kunshan government recently launched a safety overhaul to eliminate hazards and protect workers’ health at source. To this end, it has introduced three measures.
These stipulate that facilities for the prevention of occupational diseases should be designed, built and put into operation at the same time as the main body of a construction project. If a project contractor fails to submit a preliminary assessment report on safety hazards, or their report has not been examined and approved by the workplace safety supervision and administration department, the authority concerned cannot grant approval to the project.
Currently there are over a hundred projects in the city waiting to be constructed, expanded or reconstructed, including for technical upgrading and introduction, which may produce occupational disease hazards. Yet fewer than one third of employers are willing to comply with the measures. Some even take a defiant stance in order to cut costs.
At present, there are 5,881 enterprises in Kunshan. Of these, 3,000, employing 320,000 workers, are liable through their operations to give rise to occupational diseases. Evidently enterprises in the city still have a long way to go to meet the requirements set out in the measures.