Tech Factory Staff Worked 34 Days Straight, 16 Hour Days

A factory that was the site of an industrial accident that killed four workers yesterday has been found to have regularly breached labor regulations, and is currently being investigated for lethal professional negligence, Chinese language media reported today.

Liberty Times Network reported that Ilan County labor inspectors found the company to be in breach of regulations in 2015 when it was found that some employees had worked 13 days in a row. Unitech Printed Circuit Board Corp, a company with a market cap of 5.91 billion Taiwan dollars (US $198.8 million), was fined NT$20,000 (US $660).

The following year, 2016, the factory was found to have made some employees work 34 days in a row and for up to 16 hours a day. Labor inspectors levied a fine of NT$40,000 (US $1,320) dollars on the company.

Another Liberty Times Network report says that Ilan County Prosecutors Office is moving its investigation of yesterday’s accident in the direction of “lethal professional negligence” after preliminary investigations at the site found that workers cleaning a waste water tank, were not wearing protective clothing or respiratory apparatus, and were not provided with safety equipment, including safety ropes.

A little after 9:00am, engineer Jian Jiawei (簡家威) entered the tank to perform cleaning operations. Fellow engineer Hsu Jiawei (許家偉) stood watch above the underground tank. After about half an hour, Jian was overcome by hydrogen sulfide fumes and collapsed. Hsu rushed to a second floor control room to raise the alarm.

Section chiefs Hsu Wenxian (許文賢) and Hsie Wei-en(謝維恩) rushed to the first floor and entered the tank in an attempt to rescue Jian, but both men were immediately overcome by the fumes and collapsed.

When control room engineer Mr Wu (吳) realized something had gone wrong, he hailed two passing engineers to go and provide assistance. One of the men Lai Baiyi (賴柏宜) entered the tank and lost consciousness while, the other You Shengfu (游聖富) was overcome by fumes as he looked down from above.

Mr Lai, and Mr You survived but were seriously injured. The other four men, including Hsu Jiawei, who must have entered the tank after going to the control room for help, died.

Unitech Printed Circuit Board stocks tumbled more than 5% today after a 2.2% decline yesterday. Selling pressure continued after it was announced that closure of the plant could affect revenues. The Ilan factory accounts for about 10% of the company’s revenue and is expected to be closed until sometime in July.

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