The Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Reexamination Committee is an institution that reexamines cases that were not recognized after filing an industrial accident application with the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service. It is a place where workers and bereaved families who cannot afford to file an administrative lawsuit immediately have no choice but to lean on. Although it performs an important function, it has several problems and improvement tasks. I plan to write a related article in three parts.
In the written response to the 2021 state audit, the Industrial Accident Compensation Review Committee responded to the question whether failure to meet the legal processing deadline of 60 days (maximum 80 days) was not a violation of the law. It is a violation.”
As of the end of August last year, the average processing time of the Industrial Accident Review Committee was 134.9 days. The duration of each hearing is 2 hours 55 minutes (2020) and 2 hours 34 minutes (as of the end of August last year). The average hearing time per case was 3 minutes 58 seconds (2020) and 3 minutes 50 seconds (as of the end of August last year). The Industrial Accident Review Committee answered that the “lack of examiners” was the main cause. It looks like there will be six reinforcements this year, but this is not the only issue that will be resolved.
First of all, the biggest problem is the indifference of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. The Industrial Accident Review Committee responded that the attendance of the director of the Industrial Accident Prevention and Compensation Policy Bureau, an ex officio member, has increased to 5 times since 2019 (1 time in 2019, 3 times in 2020, and 1 time in 2021). Even the reason for the participation of the director of the Industrial Accident Prevention and Compensation Policy Bureau was after the government audit was pointed out in 2019, and last year, the director attended only once. The website of the Ministry of Labor does not even indicate the workers’ compensation policy and who is in charge of the work of the industrial accident review committee. The competent department and person in charge do not have a clear policy on the current status of the Industrial Accident Accident Review Committee, problems, and improvement measures.
It is true that there is a shortage of examiners, but the structure to cultivate the ability of examiners and the autonomy of ex officio investigations are not guaranteed. The number of cases handled by the examiners was 172 cases in 2020 and 134 cases as of the end of August last year. The average monthly processing number is 14.3 (2020) and 16.7 (as of the end of August last year). In order to handle 16 cases per month, unofficial work can be done even with the exception of writing and sending official documents on the hearing meeting schedule, scanning the original data, writing a case summary, registering meeting data on the floor, participating in a case review meeting, participating in a hearing meeting, and writing a ruling. have.
However, it cannot be concluded that the current system is efficient if only looking at the core task of preparing an event summary. A case for reexamination is a case that is requested for review or passed through the Occupational Disease Adjudication Committee. There is already a document that summarizes the cases, that is, a deliberation draft prepared by the Industrial Accident Review Committee and a deliberation draft prepared by the Disease Adjudication Committee. Since it is not a new document that synthesizes all of the data, it is impossible to judge the overweight of the work based on the number of cases alone. Currently, the existing deliberation draft materials are not sent to the members. First, the data system needs to be reorganized through computerized integration, as the disease judgment committee and the industrial accident review committee scan all data, including the deliberation plan. If only newly submitted data to the Industrial Accident Compensation Committee can be added in addition to already scanned data, work can be greatly reduced. Other than that, it is necessary to reduce the workload by simplifying the form, such as unifying the case summary and the existing deliberation plan.
In the long term, it is necessary to reduce the number of cases per episode or to eliminate the case summary itself so that the members have no choice but to view the entire data. At present, the number of cases at a single meeting is too high, around 40. It may take several days to see the entire compressed file and history. If most of the participating members are not in their field, faithful discussion may be lacking because they do not read data other than the case summary.
Another problem with examiners is the fact that they are transferred to another department after three years, the time when they are acclimatized to work. When new employees come in, they have no choice but to learn from scratch. Sufficient knowledge and experience in industrial accident insurance are required for in-depth investigation and arrangement. It is necessary to induce long-term work through the establishment of professional examiners, etc., and introduce an incentive system for promotions and salaries.
In addition, an investigation ex officio stipulated in Article 105 (4) of the Industrial Accident Insurance Act should be induced. Even now, although ex officio investigations can be conducted, there are very few cases in which they are actually conducted. This is largely due to the long-standing practice of the committee, not the problem of the judges’ abilities and qualifications. It is even more necessary considering that the current request for evidence examination by the claimants is not often accepted by the committee. In the current structure, it is difficult to even expect ‘identifying and presenting similar rulings, precedents, and questions during inquiry’, which are precautions to be taken in preparing a case summary.
In addition, the qualifications of the members should be changed. In particular, a more faithful legal judgment structure should be established by uniformly stipulating the requirements for a lawyer to be at least 10 years and allowing at least three people to participate in the meeting. In addition, the requirement unrelated to the industrial accident insurance business such as ‘labor-related work experience’ should be deleted. In addition, attention should be paid to the improvement of the qualifications and abilities of the members. In the structure of a meeting where the majority are clinicians, they do not know the basic principles and contents of industrial accident insurance, which is a big obstacle to judgment. For example, they participate without even knowing why a ruptured brain aneurysm or aortic aneurysm is covered by workers’ compensation insurance or what the work-weighting factor means. Rather than a formal orientation, continuous and systematic education is required. It is also necessary to provide feedback on the judgment of the adjudication case in which the person participated. This is because, in the end, it is a matter of the competence and qualifications of the members to close the gap between the judgment of the court and the Industrial Accident Compensation Committee.