Nov. 2, 2017
In response to the successive occurrence of large-scale accidents in the shipbuilding industry, including a crane collapse at Samsung Heavy Industries' shipyard and an explosion during painting work at STX Offshore and Shipbuilding's shipyard, an 'investigation committee on serious industrial accidents in the shipbuilding industry', which has civilian experts at its center and involves citizens, has been set up to thoroughly investigate the details of those accidents and come up with fundamental improvement measures.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor (Minister Kim Young-joo) presented certificates of appointment to the 17 members of the investigation committee on November 2nd (Thu.) and asked them to find what caused the large-scale accidents in the shipbuilding industry.
The investigation committee is composed of a total of 17 members, including the chairperson, civilian experts, experienced workers in the shipbuilding industry and experts recommended by workers' and employers' organizations.
The civilian experts include specialists in sociology, business administration and law who can analyze industry and employment structures as well as occupational safety specialists. The committee also involves current and former executives and employees, principal contractors' and subcontractors' workers and other people with diverse experience in the shipbuilding industry.
Moreover, people from citizens' safety groups and young people (i.e. college students in related academic fields) can participate as observers in the committee's on-site investigations and meetings.
The investigation committee will directly investigate not just the workplaces' safety systems but also the industry's social and structural problems, including subcontracting structure and employment types, so that they can come up with fundamental solutions to protect the safety and lives of shipbuilding workers.
The creation of the investigation committee has great significance in that it is the first organization created according to the serious industrial accident prevention measures announced jointly by relevant ministries on August 17th and suggestions gathered through the field labor offices set up on September 19th.
The investigation committee, whose members were appointed by the Minister of Employment and Labor, will operate for four months from November 2nd (Thu.) until February 28th (Wed.). The operating period can be extended if necessary.
The committee will investigate everything from systems and practices to structural factors that might be singled out as the causes of the accidents, using various methods ranging from visits to accident sites - i.e. Samsung Heavy Industries and STX Offshore and Shipbuilding - and examinations of workplace documents and records to interviews with representatives from the management and trade unions and field workers including crane operators and painting workers.
Once the investigation is concluded, the committee will announce the results containing a technical improvement plan, a system for preventing recurrence of such accidents and structural improvement measures and notify relevant government agencies of what needs to be improved.
Minister Kim Young-joo said, "We will provide support to the investigation committee so that it will be able not only to find safety measures for the two shipyards but also to come up with convincing and consensual fundamental solutions for the entire shipbuilding industry by thoroughly investigating and analyzing its culture, structure and practices, including the practices of outsourcing danger and managing work processes based on vessel delivery schedules."