Korean prosecutors have announced that they were indicting the CEO and 17 managers at Hyundai
Heavy Industries on violations of health and safety regulations. They cited numerous incidents of
safety violations at the company’s shipyards and said they would be investigating the safety
culture and protocols at the headquarters and company’s operating locations.
In announcing the indictments, prosecutors said that there had been three fatal accidents this
year and a total of five deaths at the yards in the nine months between September 2019 and May
2020. A total of 635 safety violations were also identified during regular and special safety
inspections undertaken by the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
Among the fatal accidents, they provided details on the death of a subcontractor working at the
Ulsan shipyard. They reported that the pipe fitter suffocated on September 20, 2019, while
working on a tank installation and two other workers also died in other suffocation incidents.
Another worker died at an underwater maintenance facility and a worker died after falling from a
height of over 55 feet.
In addition to the CEO, the indictments were filed against current and former leaders of the
company’s business divisions and field managers, as well as subcontractors and suppliers. The
enforcement effort is part of enhanced safety regulations and can result in heavy fines.
“We plan to intensively check compliance with safety and health rules,” the Ministry of
Employment and Labor wrote in a statement after the announcement of the indictments. The
ministry said that it plans to make recommendations for improvements of the safety protocols and
will undertake site supervision and inspections at the company’s locations.
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Among the focus of the ongoing supervision will be to assess management’s perceptions and efforts
to enforce health and safety systems as well management’s goals, enforcement systems, risk
assessments, and employee opinion gathering as it relates to safety issues. They said that they
would also be checking compliance with safety and health rules, focusing on the use of safety
gear and site management.
“Strict measures will be taken against violations of the Industrial Safety and Health Act,” the
ministry said in its statement. To ensure compliance, they will continue to make site visits and
unannounced inspections of the facilities.
In June 2020, Hyundai Heavy Industries Group announced it had established a comprehensive safety
management plan and would invest over $250 million over the next three years on safety
improvements and education at its business sites. Half of the investment was being dedicated to
expanding the safety innovation advisory committee, giving all workers the right to request
safety improvements, reorganizing the safety organization, and expanding investment in safety
facilities. The group committed itself to re-inspection of its overall safety system and said it
would establish a safety risk management team to allow regular inspection and diagnosis at all
worksites for the early detection of problems and to prevent accidents in advance.