Work Ethics

Japanese people are well-known to be hard workers. Their extreme commitment to the job and the company they work for, often for 10 hours a day and more, is shocking to Westerners. Work-Life-Balance is something that does not exist in Japan. Your life is work and your work is life…

It appears that the house opposite mine – a small, three storey apartment building – will be renovated. Last Friday a number of people came to put up the scaffolding. It took them all day. Have a look at this photo, taken from my balcony. Do you notice anything?

putting up a scaffolding in the pouring rainWell, while they were happily running up and down the half-finished scaffolding and throwing the parts to each other, it was raining. Not just a light drizzle, it was pouring heavily. All day long. They all kept working regardless, a few minutes before that photo was taken, the man in the black jacket even went to the roof working there.

All this happened without any type of safety gear I could see, except for the hard hats. I don’t know what type of shoes they were wearing, but it’s probably not a good idea to run around on wet metal scaffolding or wet roofs in any case. However, they did not seem to worry about anything at all and kept working at a steady pace all day.

I think that this would not be possible in Austria. If it’s raining, construction work like this simply does not happen, you would have to wait until the rain stops before completing the scaffolding. I wonder whether this is because of different laws regarding safety at work or too tight a schedule (note: I did not notice anyone working there today, although the weather was nice). Is Japanese work ethics really so much different that people would disregard their own safety?