<Reporter Hee-Won Je>

This is the site of a fire in a frozen warehouse in Icheon that killed 40 people in January 2008.

At that time, the punishment the business owner received after the disaster was only a fine of 20 million won.

As much as the traces of the fire behind me, the accident at that time left indelible scars on our society and served as an opportunity to enact the Law on Punishment of Serious Disasters.

What about now, 14 years later?

Although it is gradually decreasing, more than 800 workers still lose their lives in occupational accidents every year.

In 2018, Kim Yong-gyun, a subcontractor worker who was working alone at a power plant, got caught in a conveyor belt and died, and just two years later, in 2020, another warehouse fire nearby killed 38 people.

The Serious Accident Punishment Act to prevent such a tragedy will come into effect from tomorrow (27th). If at least one person dies or there are two or more injuries that require treatment for more than 6 months, it is classified as a serious industrial accident.

This includes cases where 3 or more occupational diseases occur in a year.

If a disaster occurs due to the failure of the business manager to comply with safety and health obligations, criminal penalties will be imposed.

Among these, if a worker dies, the person in charge of management is punished by imprisonment for not less than one year or a fine of not more than KRW 1 billion, and a fine of not more than KRW 5 billion for corporations.

How safe have industrial sites become in one year since the legislation was enacted last year?

I'll check.

The work of moving telephone poles that obstruct traffic.

The 22.9 kilovolt, extra-high voltage line will go unbroken.

As the risk of electric shock is high, equipment that bypasses the electricity in the work area is put in.

An aerial work vehicle was also deployed to prevent fall accidents.

KEPCO took safety measures when it was belatedly revealed that an employee of a subcontractor in his 30s, working alone, was electrocuted two months ago.

[Ahn Yu-jeong / Korea Electric Power Corporation's distribution management office: This is a system that requests KEPCO so that the worker can stop the work himself if the work environment is judged to be dangerous. It has been expanded.]

Few companies have disclosed safety measures even before the enforcement of the law.

Large corporations are trying to improve the system, such as creating a new chief safety officer position or seeking legal advice.

It is intended to prevent situations such as detention of representatives.

Construction companies, which are prone to industrial accidents, have decided to stop construction altogether during the Lunar New Year holiday, fearing that it could become the 'penalty number 1'.

Small businesses are struggling.

They say that it is practically difficult to establish safety measures due to the lack of money and people.

[Jeong Han-seong / Bolt Manufacturer Representative: It is difficult to understand exactly how we should prepare and when we are subject to punishment under the Serious Disaster Act. The period for small and medium-sized enterprises to prepare was too short.]

The situation is worse for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, whose implementation has been delayed for two years.

It's about doing an on-site inspection using the safety management app as soon as possible.

[Jin Jong-hoon / site manager of small and medium-sized construction companies: There are some parts that require additional manpower, and there are a lot of costs to thoroughly implement safety facilities, but there is a limit to the actual unit price of small and medium-sized enterprises...


The Serious Accident Punishment Act will be enforced in one day.

However, companies are still voicing dissatisfaction, saying 'the law is unrealistic' and 'they cannot afford to prepare.'

(Video coverage: Kim Gyun-jong, Park Jin-ho, Park Hyeon-cheol, video editing: Hwang Ji-young, Lee Seung-hee, CG: Seo Seung-hyun)


<Reporter Youn-Ha Jo>

But do the workers think the same? The purpose of this law is to allow workers to return home safely after leaving the workplace.

From now on, come with me as a worker and go to the field.

They work close to a few meters in the air, without any safety devices, and sometimes climb on top of swaying piles of material.

There is a safety leash, but he cannot hang it and barely leans on the ladder to work.

The day before the enforcement of the Serious Accident Punishment Act, there are dangers lurking in the workplace today.

[Jin-Kwon Yang / Factory worker: Because we have to produce a lot to make a lot of profit, and in the case of our workers, honestly, because we only think of it as an accessory… .]

Still, maybe something has changed.

[Hyun Jinwoo / Factory worker: No. Nothing changes on the spot. I've never seen a company come forward and fix a dangerous situation on their own.] The

law says, 'Listen to workers' opinions on safety issues and fix them', but very few companies do this.

[Oh Dong-young / Factory worker: A major accident is about to happen. There's all the metal at the bottom, and there's no choice but to fall on top of it, but there's no improvement at all. As I said before, there is no cost in the company. I don't have money' with this logic... ]

There are a lot of places that even say something like this.

[Kim Sang-yoon/Construction worker: There are cases where it is said, 'Even if you get hurt, don't call 911 first.'

It is not uncommon for a person to stop working after paying only a portion of the cost of treatment.] As always

, safety management is a banal act.

[Kim Sang-yoon / Construction worker: Actually, the workers did not even know that the Serious Accident Punishment Act was enforced, and today, they are suddenly holding education.

Sometimes I just go and take pictures.

About 15 minutes formally?

I think I got it once or twice while working here for about six months.]

Workers are saying that small changes are necessary to make them feel safe.

(Video coverage: Han Il-sang · Jeong Seong-hwa, video editing: Jeon Min-gyu)

▶ 'Response to trickery', such as transferring responsibility to CSO, in the Serious Accident Punishment Act?