Jan 19, 2020
Tragically, a 24-year-old temporary worker in Korea was crushed to death by a steel conveyer belt at a power plant almost a year ago. One year later, a revision to the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enacted in his honor.
Sadly, 850 workers lost their lives in industrial accidents in the time it took for the law to be created. In many instances, the workers did not have basic safety gear such as proper helmets, and eye protection. Others were maimed by machinery without proper safety guards or covers to protect workers from sharp blades and churning turbines.
Of the 850 killed over the year, half of these workers were on-site in active construction zones. Workers suffered falls and sustained injuries after being struck by fallen objects.
The Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency conducted surprise inspections and found that many Korean construction sites compromised on safety to reduce overhead costs. Adding to the safety hazards were piles of debris, nails, and thrown away building materials. Many stairs were without banisters or adequate light.
The new law is a national attempt to prioritize the safety awareness of workers, as well. These efforts are helping to change workers' attitudes towards their own safety leadership. Korea's construction-site accident rate is about 9 times the rate of countries such as Germany, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands.
More than a year after 24-year-old temporary worker Kim Yong-kyun was killed when he was crushed by a steel conveyer belt at a Korea Western Power’s power plant, a revision to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which was amended after Kim’s death, finally came into effect.
In the time it took to enforce the law, more than 850 people were killed at their workplaces due to safety issues.
In September 2019, a worker at a production factory in Damyang County, South Jeolla, was killed in the same way as Kim was. The victim, who was inspecting and fixing a conveyor belt, died after his right arm was pulled into it. He was working alone with no safety guards or protective covers.
On Dec. 21, a 52-year-old worker at a resort in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, was also killed due to poor management of safety equipment. The man was working in an elevator of the resort that was about two stories high when he lost his balance and fell 15 meters (49 feet). It was later found that a safety manager was absent from work at the time and that the victim wasn’t wearing a helmet.
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