By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Eating habits in Guangdong Province, China are likely about to change. There, the Indochinese spitting cobra is a prized delicacy. The preparation of the serpent is a time-honored tradition but yesterday something went terribly wrong for Chef Peng Fan of Foshan. Disposing of the head of the snake that had been killed twenty minutes before, Fan was fatally bitten and died before the anti-venom could be administered. Spitting cobra venom contains one of the world’s most powerful neurotoxins that kills within hours of injection by suppressing involuntary muscles which control respiration.
Fan was preparing a special birthday soup and using the poisonous snake’s meat as a base. The snake head was being thrown into a bin of discards when the bite occurred. The strange phenomenon is caused by heat sensitive pits on either side of the snake’s head. These heat-sensitive pits are capable of detecting a threatening presence for hours after death, which means the snake head may reflexively continue to defend itself even after severance from the body.
A police spokesman said: ‘It is a highly unusual case but it appears to be just an accident. The man had a very severe reaction to the bite.
The death is an emotional and financial disaster for Fan’s family. China has an unwieldy worker’s compensation system that can be indefinitely delayed by employers and government bureaucracy. About 80,000 workers per year die in employment-related accidents in China. Safety on the job has not been a priority in China but the government is finally committed to doing something about the problem. The 80,000 figure actually represents an improvement on 2005 figures when over a third more workers died. By contrast the United States suffers only about 4,600 death from work-related accidents per year.
To account for differences in the number of workers in each country, occupational fatalities are typically expressed as deaths per 100,000 workers. According to a WHO report, the US reports 5.3 deaths annually per each 100,000 workers; China comes in at 11.1 fatalities for the same number of workers and timeframe. The actual results for China are likely much higher given the difficulty in obtaining accurate figures from Chinese factories where safety concerns — and reports — are put on the back burner.
Payments to the families of workers killed in occupational accidents is sporadic in China. While Fan’s death is likely compensable, actually receiving payments is far from certain or even uniform. According to the respected China Labour Bulletin, ” local implementing regulations and selective enforcement of certain provisions means that the actual payout varies considerably from region to region. Moreover, disputes between the employer and employee and the local authorities over the level of compensation and who should pay are an increasingly regular occurrence. ”
Like so many strange deaths, the fatality is only the beginning of the tragedy.
Source: Mail Online
~Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
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