A chemical explosion rocked Tianjin, China on Wednesday August 12, killing 114 to date, with hundreds more injured. Although the exact cause of the disaster has yet to be determined, lack of safety procedures and government oversight appear to be strong contributors to the accident.
China President Xi Jinping issued a statement speaking to the “extremely profound” lessons to be learned from the disaster. The Public Security Minister promised severe punishment for those found responsible for this disaster. They are joined by the State Council Work Safety Commission who will begin inspections of all businesses who use chemicals and explosives.
China experienced frequent work-related safety incidents last year. More than 68,000 people perished on the job; 186 people per day. In the U.S., the number is 12. China has 15x the injuries with only 4x the population.
Of particular concern are accidents like the one on Wednesday that spill over into public contamination of air and water. Officials have confirmed that calcium carbide, potassium nitrate and sodium nitrate were at the facility, all toxic chemicals.
Current regulations regarding dangerous chemicals should have prevented public buildings and infrastructure from being within one kilometer of the Tianjin facility, operated by Ruihai Logistics. In actuality, the facility was only 800 meters from residential buildings. The manager of the site has been detained for questioning.
The State Council cited in a statement on Friday that poor state response to incidents, incohesiveness in safety practices among workers, lack of safety awareness and poor implementation of regulations by businesses contributed to the incident. The Council ordered strict regulation enforcement on all Chinese businesses dealing in hazardous materials and chemicals.
For the latest in chemical safety and a demo of our safety management software, visit myosh.com
By Stacey Wagner