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S. Korea's new law to prevent industrial accidents can punish CEOs or owners of companies Updated: 2022-01-26 17:12:52 KST

On January 11th the nation saw this building suddenly collapse while under construction in South Korea leaving one worker dead and five still missing as of Wednesday.
The incident came just a couple of weeks before a new law is set to take affect in the country to safeguard against accidents such as these.
Due to kick in this Thursday, it's called the "Serious Accident Punishment Act" and its main purpose is to hold those at the top accountable for safety procedures not being enforced or followed.
A death on site could result in a prison term of at least one year or a fine of up to 1 billion won or 835,000 U.S. dollars.. if safety measures weren't managed thoroughly.
Punishments for non-fatal accidents that lead to two or more injuries lasting more than 6 months could lead to a maximum of 7 years in prison.

"Police officers or prosecutors are subject to at least one year in prison for causing bodily harm. It can be seen that the minimum prison time was stipulated for business owners or managers based on a similar level of duties, responsibilities, and morality."

As of now, the law applies to companies with 50 or more employees.
Those below that threshold will be included in the law starting January 2024.
Businesses will be walking on thin ice when the new law takes effect especially those in the construction sector.
According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor of the 576 companies involved in serious accidents last year more than half of them were in construction.

"Our company recently reorganized the safety management team and is expanding the investment into the safety management budget. That said, we have a plan to practice safety management through a more systematic division of work.

"There are definitely things being strengthened and the companies in charge are coming out to do more frequent inspections because of the new law coming in Also, workers are more alert and aware due to this new law."

The South Korean government is also trying to help companies adapt.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor has allotted its biggest ever budget for safety issues at more than 900 million U.S. dollars.
However the ball is now in the court of the country's judicial branch as the manner in which the first individuals are held accountable will set the precedent for this new Act.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.
Reporter : tkim@arirang.com
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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