KOSHA Pres. Baek stresses first-hand observation tours and communications to address occupational safety and health issues
Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency President Baek Hun-ki makes a
first-hand observation tour of a plant. (Photo : KOSHA)
A string of industrial accidents have hit the nation since late last year and misgivings over industrial safety are mounting, particularly in the wake of the occurrence of the hazardous gas leaks, which included hydrofluoric acid, that leaked at a Samsung Electronics plant of late.
Corporate Korea and the general public have a renewed awareness toward occupational safety and health (OSH) as the nation observed the first week of July as the government-designated week for focusing on industrial safety and health. Industrial Safety and Health Day, which falls on the first Monday of every July, was on July 1 this year.
Amid mounting concerns over industrial safety, the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) held a variety of events marking OSH week and the 2013 Industrial Safety and Health Day anniversary ceremony, including an international industrial safety exhibition, a seminar, and a session for presenting excellent practices. The general public was also given opportunities to participate in the events and share a renewed awareness toward industrial safety and health. Spectators to the international industrial safety exhibition looked at a wide range of advanced safety items that people can wear at home and on worksites.
KOSHA President Baek Hun-ki said in a television interview, “The biggest safety-related social issues that have figured prominently since late last year into early this year are chemical accidents, and systematic safety management is required since they could have an impact on not only industrial sites, but also the lives of neighborhood residents.”
Baek said KOSHA inaugurated a separate department charged with preventing chemical industry accidents in the beginning of 2013. The “Office of Preventing Serious Industrial Accidents” is in place at KOSHA headquarters and five regional offices in Busan, Gyeonggi-do/Incheon, Daegu, Gwangju, and Daejeon have a technology support team designed to respond to huge industrial accidents.
KOSHA President Baek has been visiting field sites since July 2011 when he took the helm at KOSHA. He also makes the rounds at 24 low-echelon related organizations and small-size workplaces to lend an ear to voices on site and reflect them when conducting surveillance into safety preparedness and other policy tasks.
He said, “We can take countermeasures when we make the rounds first-hand, lend an ear to the voices, and see and grasp what they need.”
In this regard, KOSHA offers timely technology assistance to the field sites that President Baek tours. Making the most of data indicating some 29 percent of the accident sites could see another accident within two years, KOSHA makes a tour of the sites in question within one month to analyze the causes of occupational accidents and help them work out countermeasures.
His second management priority is for smooth in-house communication. In an effort to provide quality services to prevent occupational accidents, he believes that KOSHA needs to have a flexible and elastic corporate culture in which there are no vertical and horizontal communication barriers.
Baek went on to say that there should be a shift in the paradigm of preventing occupational accidents. He noted that all members of society have to be on the same page regarding the seriousness of safety issues and they should make concerted efforts.
In this context, KOSHA carries out OSH activities with related organizations to establish OSH systems despite budgetary constraints and understaffing.
KOSHA is also devoting itself to building a risk evaluation system so that worksites can work out their own OSH systems on a voluntary basis. The risk evaluation system, which has proved to be very effective in advanced countries, has made its debut in Korea this year.