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Hyundai Shipyard CEO and Managers Indicted on Safety Violations

Korea indicts shipyard executives over safety violations
Indictments were filed due to safety violations and death at the shipyard (Hyundai Samh Shipyard)

Published Jun 15, 2021 3:38 PM by The Maritime Executive

Korean prosecutors announced that they were indicting the CEO and 17 managers at Hyundai Heavy Industries on violations of health and safety regulations. They cited numerous incidents of safety violations at the company’s shipyards and said they would be investigating the safety culture and protocols at the headquarters and company’s operating locations.

In announcing the indictments, prosecutors said that there had been three fatal accidents this year and a total of five deaths at the yards in the nine months between September 2019 and May 2020. A total of 635 safety violations were also identified during regular and special safety inspections undertaken by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.

Among the fatal accidents, they provided details on the death of a subcontractor working at the Ulsan shipyard. They reported that the pipe fitter suffocated on September 20, 2019, while working on a tank installation and two other workers also died in other suffocation incidents. Another worker died at an underwater maintenance facility and a worker died after falling from a height of over 55 feet. 

In addition to the CEO, the indictments were filed against current and former leaders of the company’s business divisions and field managers, as well as subcontractors and suppliers. The enforcement effort is part of enhanced safety regulations and can result in heavy fines.

“We plan to intensively check compliance with safety and health rules,” the Ministry of Employment and Labor wrote in a statement after the announcement of the indictments.  The ministry said that it plans to make recommendations for improvements of the safety protocols and will undertake site supervision and inspections at the company’s locations.

Among the focus of the ongoing supervision will be to assess management’s perceptions and efforts to enforce health and safety systems as well management’s goals, enforcement systems, risk assessments, and employee opinion gathering as it relates to safety issues. They said that they would also be checking compliance with safety and health rules, focusing on the use of safety gear and site management.

“Strict measures will be taken against violations of the Industrial Safety and Health Act,” the ministry said in its statement. To ensure compliance, they will continue to make site visits and unannounced inspections of the facilities.

In June 2020, Hyundai Heavy Industries Group announced it had established a comprehensive safety management plan and would invest over $250 million over the next three years on safety improvements and education at its business sites. Half of the investment was being dedicated to expanding the safety innovation advisory committee, giving all workers the right to request safety improvements, reorganizing the safety organization, and expanding investment in safety facilities. The group committed itself to re-inspection of its overall safety system and said it would establish a safety risk management team to allow regular inspection and diagnosis at all worksites for the early detection of problems and to prevent accidents in advance.