The deadly train wreck in eastern China in late July has provoked public outrage in the country. The lessons China is learning as an emerging economic superpower relating to safety are so familiar to U.S. safety and health pros (and myself after editing ISHN for 30+ years) it has taken me this long to write about it.

 Simply put, China’s surging economic growth (more than nine percent annually, compared to the current U.S. GDP of less than two percent for the first half of 2011) is like an amped-up, almost out-of-control assembly line. Some of you old schoolers will recall the famous “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucille Ball can’t keep pace with a fast-moving production line of doughnuts, starts eating the doughnuts, stuffing her mouth as only Lucy could.

 So in China after the high-speed rail collision that killed more than 40 passengers, now comes the self-reflection and guilt. This reaction happens time and again in the U.S. and just about anywhere after a tragic accident.

 “No Development Without Safety” was the headline on People’s Net, the Chinese government-run web site affiliated with the Communist Party’s leading newspaper, People’s Daily.

 You could unfurl those words in a banner anywhere in the world. Sounds good, as all safety slogans do, but the lessons learned never last.

 The web post continued: “From public transport safety to coal mine safety to food safety, these accidents show that theoretically there is no problem with the conception of safety plans. But they are not execute properly.”

 Like I said, it’s taken me weeks to get up the stomach to write yet another story of safety plans not properly executed.

 A Chinese blogger put it more eloquently: “China, please stop your flying pace, wait for your people, wait for your soul, wait for your morality, wait for your conscience! Don’t let the train run out off track, don’t let the bridges collapse, don’t let the roads become traps, don’t let the houses become ruins. Walk slowly, allowing every life to have freedom and dignity.”

 Ah, the race for profits versus the dignity of working souls. The conflict never changes…