SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — The South Korean government vowed Monday to conduct emergency inspections at a coal power plant following the death of a young worker and beef up safety measures in workplaces.
The measures comes after a 24-year-old sub-contract worker at the Korea Western Power Co. (KOWEPO) was killed in a conveyor belt accident at a coal power plant in Taean, 146 kilometers south of Seoul, on Dec. 11.
The latest in a series of accidents shed light on poor working conditions of irregular workers, who are often assigned to dangerous sites without sufficient training and relevant equipment.
The victim, who started work at the plant three months ago, was supposed to be working with his teammate, per the workplace guideline, but he covered the site without a backup at the time of the accident, according to the plant operator.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor expressed regret over the young worker’s death and pledged to thoroughly investigate the case.
“We will sternly punish those responsible for the accident and raise awareness of employers and step up efforts to prevent recurrence of similar cases,” Labor minister Lee Jae-gap said in a briefing. “Separate from the case, the government will also conduct comprehensive safety inspections on the KOWEPO and 12 other power plants.”
The government will, moreover, look into the working conditions of subcontract workers and review safety guidelines for repair and maintenance works.
A special committee investigating the case claimed that KOWEPO tried to cover up the death by fabricating the timeline of the accidents and exerting pressure on some of workers not to tell the truth.
A total of 69 industrial accidents took place at four coal power plants operated by the KOWEPO from 2008 to 2018. Among 13 fatal cases, 12 occurred at the plant in Taean, according to the utility firm.