Investigation Supervisors of the Serious Disaster Punishment Act to be dispatched across the country

▲ Reporter Kim Mi-young

In preparation for the enforcement of the Act on Punishment of Serious Accidents (Severe Accidents Punishment Act) scheduled for the 27th of this month, the Ministry of Employment and Labor has dispatched 100 investigative personnel to the Metropolitan Industrial Accident Management Division of regional labor offices. Last year, 828 industrial accidents occurred at 811 workplaces, killing 828 people. The Serious Accident Punishment Act applies to workplaces with 50 or more employees and construction sites with a construction cost of 5 billion won or more. Even if a major accident occurred at a workplace with fewer than 50 employees, if the principal agency was found to be responsible for negligence in securing safety and health in the process of subcontracting, outsourcing, and outsourcing, it could be punished.

Last year’s accident death rate was ‘lowest in history’
“It will be reduced to the early 700s this year.”

Kwon Ki-seop (Photo) On the afternoon of the 10th, the head of the Occupational Safety and Health Headquarters of the Ministry of Labor announced the direction for reducing industrial accident deaths in accordance with the enforcement of the Serious Accident Punishment Act at the government complex in Sejong. According to the Ministry of Labor, the number of deaths in industrial accidents last year (official statistics based on industrial accident approval) was 828, a decrease of 54 (-6.1%) from the previous year. The accident-to-death rate, which is the ratio of accident deaths per 10,000 workers, was 0.43, the lowest since 1999 when related statistics were compiled.

This seems to be due to the increased awareness of business managers about industrial accident deaths due to the enactment of the Serious Accident Punishment Act. The Ministry of Labor said, “According to the statistics on the number of fatal accidents, the number of fatal accidents last year was 667, a decrease of 101 people (-13.2%) from the previous year.

Direct notification of labor inspection results to the management manager
“Punishment of industrial accident deaths caused by indifference, neglect, and acquiescence”

The Ministry of Labor is emphasizing the early adoption of the Serious Accident Punishment Act. Director Kwon Ki-seop said, “If the manager is wary of three things: indifference to safety, neglect of risks, and acquiescence to safety rules and work procedures, there will be no punishment.” It’s time to focus on disaster prevention efforts.”

The Ministry of Labor will be sure to notify or explain the results of the labor inspection to the employer (management manager) in the future so that site risk factors can be identified and improved.

As it is the first year of the implementation of the Serious Accident Punishment Act, efforts are being made to prepare an investigation procedure. According to the revision of the Act on Persons and Scope of Duties for Judicial Police Officers on the 4th of last month (Judicial Police Duty Act), the investigation of serious industrial accidents is carried out by labor inspectors. The Ministry of Labor established 7 regional major disaster management divisions at local labor offices and dispatched 100 workers. The Busan Regional Labor Office has the most with 17, and the Seoul Regional Labor Office also has 13 employees. Intensive investigations are conducted on whether serious accidents have violated the Industrial Safety and Health Act and whether harmful and dangerous factors that caused accidents have been tolerated or neglected.

Since last year, investigative personnel have studied criminal procedure law and commercial law, and have undergone training such as simulation investigations of various serious disasters. In addition, the Ministry of Labor has been discussing legal issues and investigation procedures since March last year by forming a TF with the prosecution to respond to the Act on the Punishment of Serious Accidents Act. The main contents are the preparation of an explanation for penalties, the preparation of an investigation manual, and the establishment of sentencing standards. The Ministry of Labor explained, “Most of the work has been completed and we are in the process of initiating practical consultations to examine the field application in detail.”

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