Groups review safety guidelines

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Groups review safety guidelines

As Korea continues to grieve in the wake of the Sewol ferry sinking, local companies are rushing to comply with safety standards by having work sites inspected and reviewing safety manuals to prevent further accidents.

Though the ferry disaster has been the most shocking, other local companies have also had serious accidents this year, such as oil leaks and explosions. Most recently, a fire broke out at Samsung SDS’s data center in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, and a dock at Hyundai Heavy Industries’ shipyard in Ulsan also burned.

Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) said yesterday that it will be conducting a safety inspection until next Wednesday. The state-run train operator formed a team of 170 employees divided into groups to evaluate general safety, sales, trains, facilities and electricity. They will inspect 12 regional headquarters, 78 stations and 230 offices, checking evacuation plans, equipment, and the duties of train operators and crew members in the event of an accident.

Korail said that the procedure is not a one-off and that it will conduct accident and rescue drills 12 times per year and hold random inspections.

Korea Industrial Complex Corporation (Kicox), an industrial complex management agency, said that it had ordered its safety directors at each complex to check their safety manual. It will conduct on-site safety drills starting next month, simulating possible accidents.

Private corporations have also begun reviewing their safety programs since the ferry sinking. Samsung Group, Korea’s largest chaebol, recently had a directors meeting to review its safety plans, focusing on the conditions of its older facilities, which are more vulnerable.

Following the arrival of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who has said safety is a priority, the group is expected to take a stronger stance on safety issues. Industry insiders are waiting to see if Lee will punish employees after the recent Samsung SDS fire. Last year, the Samsung Engineering president was sacked after a water tank explosion killed three people.

Hyundai Motor Group is also checking its safety manuals. The nation’s largest automaker had multiple accidents last year at Hyundai Steel’s Dangjin plant.

Hyundai Heavy Industries, which is dealing with the aftermath of a fire that killed two people and injured two others on Monday, said yesterday that it is adopting an accident risk warning system and will create a special safety inspection team and increase punishments for safety violations.

The company said that since the fire at its shipbuilding dock involved employees from subcontractors, it will also apply a share safety management system with its subcontractors so that all workers on site know the drills.

Korean builders are also boosting efforts to prevent accidents among workers at construction sites.

Posco Engineering & Construction, the nation’s fifth-largest builder, said yesterday that CEO Hwang Tae-hyun is performing on-site inspections to check if safety measures are followed at its sites. He visited construction projects including the Songdo Greenwork apartments in Incheon on Tuesday and will visit the building site of a tram railway that connects Ui-dong and Sinseol-dong in Seoul.

“Considering the characteristics of the construction business, the risks at these sites are directly related to the management of the company,” said Hwang. “With the top priority of respecting people’s lives, our job is to make sure employees go home safely to their families.”

Meanwhile, the Construction Association of Korea (CAK), which represents local builders, said yesterday that it has formed a unit to help small and midsize builders in Korea prevent accidents.

“The support group is comprised of experts in almost every field including lawyers and communication experts to help companies in any way possible,” the CAK said in a release. “They will boost accident prevention and support small builders’ effort to recover from accidents.”

BY joo kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]


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