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Employers have legal obligation to protect employees' health and safety

By Wang Yiqing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-11-28 17:18

A scene from Shanghai Fortress features Chinese-Canadian actor Godfrey Gao, who plays the military leader of an elite unit resisting an alien invasion. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The sudden death of Taiwan actor Gao Yixiang during the filming of a game show has sparked widespread criticism of the show's producer, who was accused of ignoring the health and safety of the participants and drawn attention to the health risks of working too many hours. China Daily writer Wang Yiqing comments:

According to media reports, Gao, who was one of the competitors in the game show Chase Me. produced by Zhejiang Satellite TV, collapsed while running in the small hours of the morning. Although he was rushed to hospital, Gao was later declared dead having suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. He was 35.

Gao's death has put the spotlight on the dangers of reality TV shows that not only push the participants to the limits of their physical and mental health but also put their lives at risk by ignoring the necessary safety precautions and failing to provide on-site medical treatment facilities. Actors' overwork and occupational injuries have been frequently exposed before Gao's death, but the production companies which are eager to pursue high audience ratings and profits have chosen to turn a blind eye to them.

As early as 2013, a member of actor Shi Xiaolong's team drowned during the filming of the celebrity diving entertainment show Celebrity Splash, which was also produced by Zhejiang Satellite TV. But the company failed to learn any lessons from this, instead it has continued include dangerous games in its shows without providing the necessary protection and rescue facilities for the participants.

Gao's death has also focused attention on excessive overtime in entertainment industry, which has become a hidden rule that few actors and practitioners can defy. Actor Yuan Hong said in a micro blog post that working overtime is normal life for the majority of actors and workers in the entertainment industry, and few production organizations are willing to sign contracts with the actors to guarantee they will not work for more than 12 or 14 hours a day.

In fact, overwork is not just a problem in the entertainment industry. The so-called 996 work schedule, in which employees work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week, and which regards overwork as an obligation of employees, has spread from internet industry to the entire society, and overtime in some companies can even mean working more than the 996 work schedule.

Such a tendency openly goes against the Labor Law and undermines employees' health. The practice should be resolutely curbed to safeguard the health of employees and avoid tragedies like Gao's happening in the future.


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