Saturday, July 28, 2012

Accident at Apple supplier (but not the one you think) kills one, puts four in coma

Of all Apple's suppliers, Foxconn is the most famous. It's also the most infamous, having been the site of accidents and employee suicides. On Friday, though, a different supplier had its own version of the explosion at a Foxconn facility in Chengdu: Catcher Technology.

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Catcher Technology confirmed on Friday that a chlorine gas leak at a plant in Suzhou, eastern China, killed one person and left four people in comas. The incident occurred during waste water processing at the plant on Thursday; the company emphasized the accident was unrelated to actual production.

Much like Foxconn, Catcher performs work for other companies besides Apple, such as HTC and Dell. For Apple, Catcher builds unibody metal cases for Apple's MacBook laptops.

The company issued a statement, saying:

"The accident happened at the waste disposal facility and is not directly related to any manufacturing process, factory, or materials. This is also a single and isolated event."

The term "isolated" may only apply to this one Catcher plant, and not the company as a whole. Last October, a different Catcher plant in Suzhou was ordered closed for a period after complaints from nearby residents about strong odors due to gas emissions.

Earlier this year, after a damning report in the New York Times, Apple became the first technology company to join the Fair Labor Association (FLA). It later requested that the FLA perform independent audits of its overseas supply chain. Initial reports found a number of violations at Foxconn, Apple's key manufacturing partner; Apple and Foxconn promised change.

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