Policeman in China dies after working for 36 hours straight

Fellow police officers pay their final respects to Gao Guangxi, former chief of the Chengnan police station, at his funeral in Haian, Jiangsu province, on July 4. Gao died at work on July 1.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

The sudden death of a police officer after he worked 36 straight hours, saddened tens of thousands of people in Jiangsu province's Haian county.

On July 4, thousands of residents attended the funeral of the 48-year-old officer, Gao Guangxi.

He was the director of the Chengnan police station in downtown Haian and had worked in law enforcement for 24 years.

Gao was found unconscious in front of his desk by Zhang Jianhua, a colleague who received a phone call from Gao's wife, Yang Mei, asking him to check on Gao around 6:30 pm on July 1 after failing to reach him many times.

Gao was a good police officer and a loving father as well. The only person he forgot to take care of was himself. - Ge Naijing, officer at the Haian public security bureau

Gao was on a 24-hour shift on June 30.

Instead of going home for rest the next day, he attended an early meeting and then visited 20 branches of the station, which has jurisdiction over 30 square kilometers and about 120,000 people.

"It's not unusual for him to work 24 hours straight," said Lu Xuqing, deputy director of the station.

"We work at one of the busiest stations in the downtown area, and sometimes cases flood the station."

The station handles about 15,000 cases every year, according to Ge Naijing, an officer at the Haian public security bureau.

In cases that could be mediated, Gao often negotiated patiently. About 99 per cent of such cases are settled this way, Ge said.

"Gao was a good police officer and a loving father as well," Ge said.

"The only person he forgot to take care of was himself."

Gao's family members wept throughout his funeral.

Yang, his wife, was seriously burned during a gas explosion in 1995.

Their only child, a daughter, attends college in neighbouring Xuzhou.

Ge said he and Gao visited police departments in some cities together in April.

Gao made time during the busy trip to be with his daughter and said he must keep his promise to be a good father.

As the breadwinner of the family, Gao supported not only his relatives but also 19 poor children, seniors and laid-off workers under the station's jurisdiction.

He had donated nearly 50,000 yuan (S$10,181) personally and raised more than 500,000 yuan for 800 people in need since 2007.

Also in 2007, he founded a volunteer group, Love Harbor, which attracted 23 police officers to help the children of criminals, poor families and seniors who had nobody to rely on.

"It's hard to accept that a person you are familiar with has gone forever," Ge said.

"May he rest in peace."

Death by overwork in Japan

  • Japan's first white paper on karoshi (death by overwork) showed 22.7 per cent of 1,743 companies surveyed
  • had employees who in the past year worked more than 80 hours of overtime in a month, the government's threshold for karoshi.
  • Japan officially recognises two types of karoshi: death from cardiovascular illness linked to overwork, and suicide following work-related mental stress.
  • The survey also found that one in five Japanese workers faced the risk of dying from overwork.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had embarked on a wide-reaching campaign to reform Japan's employment laws, which could include stiffer overtime regulation for companies.
  • The government launched its Premium Friday campaign, encouraging firms to let workers out a few hours early on the last Friday of the month.
  • Beyond easing the personal toll on workers, the government has the economy in mind.
  • As the labor pool shrinks along with the population, it wants firms to reduce hours to encourage more women to work and get fathers more involved in bringing up children.
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