Painters who fell to their deaths are just 19 of the 75,500 Chinese Construction Deaths in 2011

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 16th, 2012

Week in Review

China is exploding in construction activity.  There is a building spree going on over there.  Where it seems like money is no object.  And worker safety is not a great concern (see Workers killed as elevator plummets 34 floors to ground by Zhou Lihua in Wuhan, Hubei and Zhao Lei posted 9/14/2012 on China Daily).

Nineteen workers at a construction site in Wuhan, Hubei province, died on Thursday after the elevator they were using fell 100 meters to the ground.

The tragedy happened around 1 pm when 19 painters at the construction site of Donghujingyuan, a residential real estate project, were taking an elevator, according to the local fire department…

Residents living near the construction site said the maximum capacity of the elevator used by the workers is 12 passengers, reported cnhan.com, a major news website in Wuhan.

Why the elevator was overloaded remains unknown…

More than 347,000 work-related accidents happened in 2011, and more than 75,500 people died in such accidents, according to the State Administration of Work Safety.

If you ever have the opportunity to tour a large U.S. construction site take it.  If you can, spend a day or two there.  See how they start every day.  With a safety meeting.  See them discuss hot work permits (any work that could act as a source of ignition).  You can’t just do this work without first having your hot work plan approved.  Note a worker on an 8-foot ladder.  Chances are he or she will be wearing a fall-prevention harness.  Note a worker in a manhole and the retrieval harness tripod above the hole to winch the worker out in case they are injured inside the manhole.  Note how they have a piece of test equipment to continuously monitor the air quality before they enter the hole.  And while they’re in the hole.  Note the big steel trench boxes inserted inside an open trench to protect workers from a cave-in.  Note the rebar ends sticking up out of the ground covered with bright colored protective caps to prevent anyone being impaled on one.

As you take all of these safety precautions in you can’t but help think of one thing.  How can they actually build anything having to comply with all of these costly safety requirements?  And they are costly.  Which is why they don’t build buildings like they used to.  The safety budget reduces the construction budget.  Greatly increasing the cost of construction.  So much so that small contractors can’t even afford to work on the big jobs because the safety requirements would bankrupt them.  Just as an OSHA fine would if they were caught in a safety nonconformance.  For being safe is very costly.  And trying to be unsafe is costlier still.  So our construction workers are safer.  But it comes with a price.  It makes construction much more expensive.  Giving us less building for the buck.

China doesn’t burden their construction industry with excessive safety requirements.  Based on the number of construction deaths.  In 2011 75,500 workers died.  By contrast the number of U.S. workers who died in the construction industry in 2010 was 751 according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Or 0.99% the number of deaths in China.  So it would appear that China is a little more lax with their construction safety.  Which probably explains why they can build so much.  Because they aren’t spending a large chunk of their construction budgets on safety.  Which means we could never build like the Chinese.

This is the advantage of one-party rule.  Of communism.  People are expendable.  In fact those 75,500 who died opened up jobs for more unemployed Chinese moving into the cities from the impoverished rural country.  So a little worker attrition actually helps.  And yet the American Left likes to point to China as the way capitalism should be done.  With the state running it.  So it’s fair.  And not all about the profits.  The Left would love to have the U.S. government run private industry like they do in China.  Even though that kind of state-capitalism comes with a higher death rate for workers on the job.

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