Foxconn may face another PR nightmare as reports now suggest the company’s management had been aware of the hazardous aluminum dust buildup in its Chengdu facility which led to a violent explosion that left three dead, and another 15 badly injured.
For those who haven’t been keeping the pace with news about the latest Foxconn tragedy, the electronics maker saw one of its plants blow up last Friday as a consequence of dust buildup.
Had it been ordinary dust, no tragedy would have occured.
But those who were first on the scene following the explosion learned it was aluminum dust used to polish Apple’s iPads that floated around the facility just waiting for the right spark. Aluminum dust is highly volatile and flammable.
Initially, there had been two deaths reported and close to a dozen injuries. Hours later, it was confirmed that a third person had died (likely as a result of severe injuries), with a total of 15 other workers being committed for medical treatment.
Now, here’s the interesting part.
May 6th 2011 (weeks ahead of the Chengdu tragedy) saw The Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) release a report on Foxconn working conditions, that were already controversial.
The paper discussed many of the company’s facilities across China, and made a specific reference to the Chengdu site where the situation was deemed “alarming” because of the obvious safety issues caused by huge amounts of airborne dust.
The document specifically states that “Workers in the polishing department also complain that the department is full of aluminum dust.”
“Even though they have worn gloves, their hands are still covered by dust and so (is) their face and clothes. Some workers comment that ventilation on shop floor should be improved.”
One worker reportedly said “I’m breathing in dust at Foxconn just like a vacuum cleaner. My nostrils are totally black every day.”
Most recently, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the mother company behind Foxconn, reportedly said it has closed all of its workshops that handle polishing pending further inspections.