What the Hyundai Industrial Development Gwangju collapse left behind

The collapse of Hwajeong I-Park in Gwangju, which occurred on the 11th, revealed the true face of the unsafe construction site in Korea. Even though it was built by a leading construction company in Korea, it was confirmed that the rotten practices of construction sites such as poor construction and illegal subcontracting remained the same. How can the procession of death at the construction site stop?

▲ Jeon Jae-hee, head of the labor safety office of the construction union

Let’s stop the speed of death with the Construction Safety Special Act
Jeon Jae-hee, head of the labor safety office of the construction union

“Apartments go up one floor in 7-8 days?”

“Are all the pourers on the 39th floor Chinese workers?”

HDC Hyundai Development Company’s Gwangju Hwajeong I-Park collapse disaster surprised society in many ways. But for construction workers, it is a daily routine. It’s normal to go up one more week. It goes up 6-7 floors, even 8 floors per month. To build an apartment, hold the frame with reinforcing bars, make a frame with a mold or aluminum foam, pour concrete, and when it hardens, take the foam off and put it on the upper floor to work on the next floor. This is called the framing process, and most migrant workers work here. Recently, even Korean-Chinese Koreans have refused to work, and there are many workers from Southeast Asia. Why?

The standard Rform size, which used to be 450 mm, has recently been enlarged to 600 mm. The contract price per household was 1 million won in 2018, but has recently been lowered to 850,000 won. The amount of labor has increased, and the contract price has decreased. If you give 10 million won each to 10 people, there is nothing left. However, if you give out 90,000 won, you have 100,000 won left. The remaining 100,000 won goes to the middle contractor. this is a consignment The fact that the contract unit price has been lowered has a problem that the proper construction cost is not set, but it also means that there is money leaking in the middle. The fact that the form standard has increased means that the workers are working hard.

Alform workers work close to 10 hours. In particular, lifting 50 pieces of Alform to an upper floor by more than 1 meter is hard work. It is easy if you think of lifting a 30 kilogram rice sack 33 times in 20 minutes. In 2020, the construction union and the Korea Institute for Occupational Safety and Health measured the labor intensity. As a result, the average heart rate of the rform workers was about 10 hours, equivalent to running a marathon and running 100 meters at a specific time. They burned an average of 134 calories per hour. It was a figure that used 5.85 times more energy than office workers and 2.71 times more than automobile manufacturing workers. If this happens over and over again, after 5 years, your body battery will run out or you will no longer be able to do your job. Rform field migrant workers usually take five years to plan their departure.

A further intensification of the murderous intensity of labor is ‘yari kiri’ (slang), in which wages are paid according to the completion of the assigned amount of work. In other words, it is a construction site practice that pays the amount equal to the amount of work per household or section, not monthly or daily. At first glance, it may seem like a tempting wage system, but it is the culprit that drives workers into a war of murderous speed.

The Act on Punishment of Serious Accidents, etc. (Severe Accident Punishment Act) changed the social atmosphere about safety. The president of KEPCO held a press conference to pay tribute to the late Kim Da-un, an electric worker who died of electrocution. It was the first time for a KEPCO president to come forward to the death of a worker. Samsung C&T and POSCO said they would guarantee the right to stop work at construction sites. However, the scene did not change. There is still no place to hang the safety hook at the construction site, and the safety footing is not properly installed.

Moreover, I cannot help but be surprised by the trick of not working once, saying that it cannot be the No. 1 Act on the Punishment of Serious Disasters.

Some construction companies have entered a shutdown, such as a ‘total work ban’. The cause of construction companies is the Lunar New Year holiday. Although each site is different, many sites are closed from January 27th to February 6th. Compared to the case of only resting on red days, it is a case of closing the site for a very long time. The late Kim Daun, an electrician, majored in slashing, and died from electrocution while working on a power pole. KEPCO is in a state of complete ban from the work of private line majors climbing on electric poles. If this happens, after taking a break, the problem is. The construction period is fixed. After a long break, a speedy battle is inevitable.

Safety is more important than speed, and safety is a right, not a control. It is essential to come up with fundamental countermeasures to stop the cycle of death at construction sites. The Construction Safety Special Act, which mandates that the client calculate and design an appropriate construction period, is pending in the National Assembly Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee. It was proposed in September 2020 in the wake of the fire at the Namicheon Logistics Center of Han Express, but only a public hearing was held after more than a year. Every major accident, it went up and down, but it was never discussed.

Enacting the Construction Safety Special Act, eradicating illegal subcontracting, preventing accidents and saving workers.

Eliminate illegal subcontracting, the main cause of construction accidents
Park Jong-guk, former director of Gyeonggi-do Labor Rights and Rights Center

Park Jong-guk, former director of Gyeonggi-do Labor Rights and Rights Center
▲ Park Jong-guk, former director of Gyeonggi-do Labor Rights and Rights Center

If we look at the cause of the collapse of Hwajeong I-Park in Gwangju, we need to understand the construction process of the frame process. Simply put, once the reinforcement is installed on the foundation floor. After this process is completed, the electric wires and internal piping are installed between the rebars, and then the carpenter mold workers use Euroform (or R-form) to wrap the wall and column formwork. After that, the top slab is covered with plywood. After laying slab reinforcing bars, installing wires and piping, pouring concrete for the last time, and curing it until it hardens, and you are done. At this time, since the concrete slab must withstand the weight of the concrete slab well, the vertical support and reinforcement is strongly reinforced by using the pipe support and the system copper at the bottom. Therefore, if a collapse accident occurs during construction, it means that proper construction was not carried out in the middle according to the work plan.

Before starting concrete pouring, the on-site supervisor must check whether support reinforcement such as reinforcement and reinforcement work for the slab top plate and the lower formwork have been thoroughly reinforced. At this time, if there is any change that is different from the original design, follow-up measures should be thoroughly checked. Even the rainy season and severe cold weather must be considered. If there are any changes, of course, it should be reported to the administrative authority. Therefore, the role of the accountability system for poor construction is very important. Also, during pouring, safety managers, construction managers, and on-site supervisors should not leave the site and prepare for accidents caused by eccentric load, which is the cause of frequent accidents. The reason such collapse accidents often occur is that, instead of distributing the slab top to receive an even force, ‘spreading before speed’ is performed to speed up the work.

At the site, the concrete pouring team is forced to work in the form of subcontracting illegal quantities, so the reality is that 6-7 people are barely put in instead of the appropriate 15 people listed in the construction specifications. Pouring has to be done while closely observing measures such as form safety reinforcement, but in the end it is inevitable that it will be a speedy operation. The precarious situation continues as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Employment and Labor are ignoring each other in the management of illegal multi-level subcontracting, which is the cause of disasters in the construction industry. Even after the pouring work is finished, give it a sufficient curing period, and at least 3~4 floors should never remove the lower vertical support reinforcement for a certain period of time. However, it is an obstacle to the subsequent indoor construction, so it is removed early before curing is complete. Recently, unsupported methods that can omit the lower support reinforcement have been introduced one after another. In order to shorten the construction period, a reinforcing agent is added to cement mortar, and the concrete is artificially hardened quickly by using a high-temperature hot air fan and solid fuel. With this speed-up construction, 4-5 floors can be easily raised per month. If a mortar with a weak concrete strength slump is used to inflate the construction cost, it is natural that the strength is weak even after curing.

The next hypothesis for the collapse disaster is the possibility of falling after breaking out of a large outer wall form called the ‘RCS (Rail Climbing System) system’. This method has very high working efficiency. However, it weighs several tens of tons. If the concrete fixing pin is not able to withstand the weight and is broken or detached, it can lead to a major accident. If you use a bad ready-mixed concrete with weak strength, you must also assume the collapse disaster caused by the detachment of the fixing pin. There have already been similar fatal accidents during the construction of skyscrapers in Haeundae, Busan and Jamsil, Seoul. As of yet, our country does not have such a national qualification for special engineering technicians and there are no technical schools that teach. It’s just that 3-4 foreign teams learn over their shoulders and carry on this dangerous construction work. Recently, the J-defective ready-mixed concrete problem has caused a huge social impact. Therefore, it is necessary to introduce a ‘pre-report system’ when pouring ready-mixed concrete so that inspections can be made at any time.

If the construction is suspended due to a major accident due to the cause attributable to the employer, such as this collapse, it should be possible to ‘preserve wages’ according to the closure. In this way, business owners will have the perception that “it is more profitable for the company to invest in safety in advance.” In addition, it is necessary not to have a safety manager as an employee of the construction company, but to check each other through the introduction of a separate ordering system for safety management. Recently, construction companies are shifting the cost of safety management to subcontractors and outsourcing safety management personnel. In addition, when placing an order for new construction, a local honorary citizen safety supervision group must be appointed to prevent poor construction.


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