Steel industry calls for higher safety standards

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Steel industry calls for higher safety standards

Korea’s construction and steel industry agreed yesterday that tighter regulations are needed for construction materials in order to improve safety.

At a seminar hosted by the Korea Iron and Steel Association (Kosa) at the National Assembly Library in Yeouido, western Seoul, which was attended by more than 300 guests, construction and steel industry officials said that policies should be improved to make Korea safer.

Even before the Sewol ferry tragedy, the construction industry was under fire after the roof of an auditorium at the Mauna Ocean Resort in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang, collapsed and killed 10 people in February. It was later revealed that the builder used poor-quality construction materials.

“Accidents that have occurred recently are mostly man-made disasters that resulted from poor management and a disregard for morals,” Saenuri Party lawmaker Kim Sung-tae, who is also a member of the National Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee, said at the seminar. “Since safety is a necessity due to the trend of constructing large, tall buildings, it’s fortunate that a foundation like the Construction Technology Promotion Act is being brought up.”

At the seminar, experts suggested that the management and use of quality construction materials should be made a priority.

Despite revisions in May to the Construction Technology Promotion Act, which required not only builders, but also suppliers to get quality certification for their products, only 4.4 percent have carried out the mandatory Korean Industrial Standards (KS) test for imported H-beam products, according to the Korea Construction Quality Research Center (KCQR).

“Only some steel materials used in construction sites have shown to meet the mandatory KS certification or an equivalent,” said Korea Maritime University Professor Kyung Kab-soo, who is also a member of the Korean Society of Steel Construction. “We should make it mandatory for all construction materials to receive quality management like Japan.”

The steel industry has previously requested that builders use authentic, high-quality products. Since 2010, it has been mandatory for steel bars to have a KS certification mark as well as the manufacturer and origin, but illegal marks have been a problem for steel and construction companies.

“At some sites, they copy the certification or use uncertified products just because they are cheap,” said Kosa Vice Chairman Oh Il-hwan. “Economic value should not be more important than safety.”

In addition, KCQR suggested at the seminar that the government should make builders post the origin of construction materials on the construction information board at worksites even after construction is finished.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]




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