Workplace safety rules satisfy neither companies nor labor

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Workplace safety rules satisfy neither companies nor labor

Jang Sang-yoon, a director at the Office for Government Policy Coordination, announces a new law aimed at cracking down on unsafe workplaces on Friday at the government complex in central Seoul. [YONHAP]

Jang Sang-yoon, a director at the Office for Government Policy Coordination, announces a new law aimed at cracking down on unsafe workplaces on Friday at the government complex in central Seoul. [YONHAP]

 
The government announced the details of a new law cracking down on unsafe workplaces Friday, only to face withering criticism from both industries and labor.  
 
The ordinance, due to come into effect on Jan. 27, next year, listed specific conditions that will be categorized as work-related injuries that can lead to compensation. It also holds heads of corporations accountable for workplace accidents.  
 
The country’s largest business lobbying groups – the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Korean Enterprises Federation (KEF) and Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) – said the ordinance is too tough on corporations, including too many conditions as workplace injuries. They also blamed it for lacking clarity.
 
“The ordinance should have stated the severity of a certain symptom or treatment period as a condition for being counted as a work-related injury,” said the FKI in a statement.  
“In this case, the scope becomes too broad, which will translate into excessive punishment of businesses."   
 
The conditions in the ordinance include fever, vomiting, nausea, central nervous system disorders and skin ulcers as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.  
 
The business associations also noted that safety requirements in the ordinance are too vague to be real precautions against accidents.
 
The ordinance stipulates that businesses should allocate “appropriate” staff and budgets to keep a workplace safe.  
 
The KCCI said the new rules were predominately about penalizing  executives and corporations for accidents instead of encouraging them to prevent accidents from happening.  
 
The labor associations, on the other hand, condemned the new law for being too lax.  
 
The Federation of Korean Trae Unions, an umbrella labor group for a wide variety of industries, said that the ordinance should include conditions such as pneumoconiosis, hearing loss and brain and cardiovascular diseases.  
 

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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