Hanwha Ocean Resumes Work at Shipyard After Fatal Accident

Hanwha Ocean shipyard
Work was stopped after an explosion in the workshop devoted to rudders (Hanwha Ocean file photo)

Published Jan 17, 2024 7:13 PM by The Maritime Executive


Hanwha Ocean reported that it has resumed production at its shipyard in South Korea after a fatal accident last Friday that prompted an investigation and efforts to develop preventative measures for the future. In a stock exchange filing, South Korea’s third largest shipbuilder reported work was resuming in most parts of the yard except for the area covered by a government order received on January 16.

“The company decided to resume work after receiving an official document from the Ministry of Employment and Labor,” Hanwha Ocean said in the filing. Work they reported would be resuming at the Okpo Shipyard, including manufacturing plants 1 and 2 as well as the workshops.

The company, however, reports it received an official order from the Ministry to stop work at other parts of the manufacturing plant. The impact from this order they said would be minimal to sales.

According to media reports, a subcontractor was grinding in the workshop devoted to rudder assemblies on January 12 when the explosion occurred. The 28-year-old man was reportedly hit by debris and blasted across the workshop. He had been working in the yard since March and succumbed to his injuries at the hospital later in the day.  It was the first fatal accident at the shipyard since Hanwha Ocean completed the acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) in 2023.

The investigation is looking at the possibility of a gas leak in the workshop. Hanwha Ocean has said the workshop would remain closed until the cause of the accident was determined and steps taken to prevent a similar incident in the future.

Union leaders have been calling for a full investigation. Under South Korean law, the executives of the company can be held accountable for the accident. The Korean Times reports that Hanwha Ocean’s unionized workers are calling for the authorities to arrest the executive who is managing the company. Since the beginning of 2022, they contend there have been five fatal accidents at DSME and now Hanwha Ocean. They want a more thorough investigation of the labor practices of the company arguing that safety precautions can not be overlooked for the sake of production. 

Hanwha Ocean said that it had immediately notified the authorities after the accident occurred and that it is cooperating with them while the investigation is ongoing.