Samsung Heavy Industries has been ordered to halt the operation of its main plant in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province, South Korea, following a series of deadly accidents caused by safety lapses, government officials said.
According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, a 58-year-old laborer was killed when construction materials ― 1.5 tons of H-beam steel ― from a crane fell on him at a Samsung Heavy shipyard in Geoje, South Gyeongsang Province on Saturday morning.
The incident took place just a day after another employee was hit by a wire rope at the shipyard. A 43-year-old laborer in that incident was rushed to a nearby hospital, and remains in critical condition.
A Samsung Heavy official said the shipbuilder will abide with the labor ministry’s suspension order and will do everything it can to prevent any safety incidents at its shipyards.
“The recent incidents are very unfortunate and we express our condolences to the bereaved family,” the official said. “We will take all possible measures to create an accident-free workplace.”
The official added “Since the incident, laborers have stopped work at Geoje shipyard.”
Workers at the shipyard have been killed in similar incidents in the past, according to a report in the Korea Times.
In May 2017, another fatal incident occurred at the same shipyard. Six people were killed and 25 others injured after part of a crane fell on employees working on a ship. Two cranes ― one weighing 800 tons and another 60 meters long and weighing 32 tons ― collided causing a structure to fall from one of them.
“The incidents could have been prevented if the shipbuilder had complied with very basic safety measures,” a Solidarity for Worker’s Health official said.
“Although Samsung Heavy has enough resources to invest in improving safety measures, it has been negligent in improving worksite conditions, leaving laborers at risk of another deadly accident,” the official said in a report in the Korea Times.
Korea has one of the highest numbers of workers killed in industrial accidents among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In an average year more than 1,000 workers are killed in accidents at their workplaces, and about 76 percent of those deaths are of temporary workers.