America is now (for the time being) an economy at the top of the world. This was partially due to the long and arduous process of Industrialization, meaning establishing new ways of using resources, tools, and doing work.
Many people have suffered because of our lack of understanding of safe working patterns; how long, how fast, and under what conditions should we work? How hard should workers be pushed before they are no longer productive? As an industrialized nation we have established answers some to of these questions, and can afford to act on them accordingly.
But what is it like as a nation struggling to catch up and to become competitive? China is a rapidly advancing nation doing everything in its power to approach economic superstar status. But at what cost to its human capital?
According to an article on China.org.cn,
Companies can be so focused on the bottom line that sometimes they neglect the health of their employees.
A public relations professional in Beijing surnamed Wang recalled that one of her former employers was so eager to get into a newly renovated building they rushed straight in although it was full of toxic fumes.
Health hazards in office environments also include overworking which may well be endemic to China as companies scramble to make the best of business opportunities.
Dr Loretta Dobbelsteyn, a physiotherapist and manager of physical and alternative medicine at Beijing United Family Hospital said, “the common practice is that companies push and push almost to the edge. There’s a lack of qualified professionals in Beijing. Markets are expanding so fast that companies aren’t able to catch up. They don’t have enough resources to provide sufficient training for their new employees so they end up pushing the ones they have.”
China has some catching up to do, but as a nation that supposedly values its workers, we should be seeing more attention paid to ergonomics in Chinese offices as China transitions to a more cubicle-based economy.