There's been another serious accident at a Chinese factory making Apple products. This time, an iPad parts supplier's factory suffered an explosion. Reports say at least 60 people have been injured.
Back in May, you might remember that an explosion happened at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu. This time, the incident was at a factory owned by Pegatron subsidiary Riteng.
As Clare Jim and Argin Chang report, there was no resulting fire, but plenty of hospitalizations required:
The accident brings the spotlight back onto safety concerns over factories in China that make most of the world's computers and other electronic devices, and over Apple's supply chain, which has come under criticism from the Chinese government, and labor and environmental groups.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired a program on Oct 16 in which its reporters visited suppliers that Chinese environmental groups had said in August were thought to be doing business with Apple and had lax environmental standards.
I sincerely hope these concerns are felt in Cupertino. As we saw with the spate of Foxconn worker suicides, the "labor-camp style" working conditions of contract manufacturing staff reflects directly on Apple's brand image.
Chang also reported that the cause of the explosion is thought to be the same as the one in May:
Shanghai city government...officials were predicting that the explosion had been caused by combustible dust in an air duct, just like the explosion at Foxconn’s facility in Chengdu.
This could have been much, much worse. I vividly remember a science teacher at my high school showing the class how much energy can be released by igniting a tiny amount of fine powder suspended in air in a confined space. Truly frightening.
Richi Jennings is an independent analyst, specializing in blogging, email, spam, security, and other technology topics. His writing has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards. You can encircle him at +richi, follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be his friend at Facebook.com/richij or just use boring old email: firstname.lastname@example.org.