Giving your Life for your CountryWritten by Uln on September 29th, 2009
I am finding it difficult to concentrate on my work with a band of spidermen in overalls hanging outside the window. It is tower rinsing day today, like every year, and again I find myself paralyzed by panic. I know, it is a common sight in a vertical metropolis like Shanghai. The problem is, through my day job I am familiar with the standards of Safety applied here, and I just can’t bear to watch this.
Safety is First. That is the first sign you see when you enter a Chinese factory or construction site, written in giant characters. It is a long term campaign pushed by the government to promote awareness. Everyone knows the phrase by heart, and all companies follow it… except when it hurts the bottom line. It is a problem of clashing philosophies, in my opinion. No matter how hard the government tries, in the end of the day it’s either “get rich first” or “safety first”, you cannot have both.
Mind you, I am not one of those safety fanatics who want to force everyone to live inside a cocoon. I ride my bike every day without a helmet, and I eat my noodles from the street stalls. I assume my risks because that is also life. But when it comes to work safety, it is completely different. Because those miners and cleaners don’t choose to hang out there, they do it so that the rest of us can sit in our comfortable offices and do our jobs. They should not give their lives for this. Representatives of the people, take note.
PS: I am no expert in this kind of work, and I have no idea whether the lifeline the cleaners are using is up to the standard for a 30+ storey building. I just took them by way of example. But in case some think I am exaggerating, here is a close-up of the rope as it passed next to my window. I have turned it to horizontal to fit better in the post.
See also these pictures of better standards in my old Spanish blog.