December 29, 2011 | Mark Paradies

If Firing/Punishing Management After an Accident Was an Effective Way to Improve Performance … Shouldn’t China Have the Safest Industries Anywhere in the World?

Last July, a train crash in China killed 40 people. According to CNN, the Chinese government has punished 54 people for their roles in the accident. The story quotes the state-run Xinhua news agency as saying:

According to a final investigation report, the train crash was caused by major design flaws in train operating equipment, relaxed safety controls and poor emergency response to equipment failure.

The story also said that the probe:

…exposed that the Ministry of Railway and the Shanghai Railway Bureau had failed to act properly after the accident and were unable to disclose relevant information on issues of social concern, leaving a negative social influence,

So who lost their jobs or were disciplined? They include:

  • Liu Zhijun, the country’s former railway minister
  • Zhang Shuguang, the railway ministry’s deputy chief engineer
  • Xu Xiaoming, Guangzhou Railway Group Chairman
  • Miao Weizhong, China Railway Signal & Communication (CRSC) Deputy General Manager
  • Zhang Haifeng, Railway Signal Design Institute Chairman

No decision has been made about criminal charges.

Now for my question…

If firing people improves safety, shouldn’t China have one of the best safety records in the world? It seems that every accident in China is followed by firings, discipline, and criminal prosecutions. But this doesn’t seem to make performance better.

What do you think? Leave your comment here…

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