Industry Safety Conference
A Safety Conference was held in Seoul on November 28, 2013. The Conference was co-hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea, KCCI and BISD. The Conference was opened with welcome remarks by Christopher Heider, Secretary-General, ECCK, then followed by a presentation. Many business owners, managers and academicians attended.
The first presentation title was “Safety Issues in Korea & Current Policy to Prevent Chemical Accident” by Sanghoon Kim, Deputy Director, Chemical Safety TF, of Ministry of Environment. Kim described a chemical accident in Gumi 2012, at Hub Global Co., Ltd., in Gumi National Industrial Complex, which left 5 dead, damage crops of 212 hectares and livestock 3,943, which cost $55million. Similarly, there were accidents in other countries, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in India 1984, and Rhine Pollution, Basel, in Switzerland in 1986. Kim warned that because of overcrowding at Ban-woll, a Si-heung industrial complex is vulnerable to accident.
The nature of the chemical industry is reactivity, explosiveness and toxicity. According to Kim’s survey, major companies say expansion of financial & human resources are the most important for safety reinforcement, and the excessive responsibility of industry should be reasonably adjusted. Other SMEs say governmental support is necessary for vulnerable SMEs, and safety measures & regulations should be clarified. And Subcontractors says safety concerns should be reflected on contracts, and hazardous information should be given to subcontractors, and workers themselves should recognize the dangers of the field. And experts & agencies say customized measures are urgently needed, and equipment & information systems for response should be reinforced.
South Korea government plans reducing the incidence of chemical accidents in half by 2017 compared to 2012: 1) voluntary enhancement of safety management. 2) governmental supports on SMEs & vulnerable, on-site diagnostic and financial support, 87 old industrial complexes by 2017, loan for SMEs & Chemical Facilities ($800 million, 2014). 3) strict & tight legal enforcement, relevant laws & Regulation System Clarification, chemical Control Acts and Act on Registration & Evaluation, etc. of Chemical Substance, real-time tracking system, safety training for drivers, etc. 4) cooperation & communication, inter-government inspection & Accident response, establishment of emergency center at 6 high-risk industrial complexes, cooperation network establishment for responses. Kim found out universities also lack safety courses.
The second presentation called, “Case Study: HSE Management System by Solvay” was made by Kyoung-Seok Choi, HSE Manager, Solvay Silica Korea. Choi said Solvay is a major global player in chemicals with compel
ling strengths, 90% of sales in businesses among the top 3 global leaders, 38% of sales in fast growing markets, a balanced portfolio of activities, a culture of sustainability, innovation and operational excellence.
For example, their safety program in Inchoen includes a safety inspection program, a safety training program for employee, a safety task observation program, and a safety study program. Moreover, they have organized safety duty teams, and listed annual safety duty entries by HSE teams, one being the typical list, and the other is an operator’s duty list, including 4 hours for safety duty. According to Choi, the result from safety duty in 2012, reported 171 items in dangerous conditions , with 8 items solved by safety duty teams; 118 items to be repaired items ASAP; and 66 items to be set up by improving action plans.
The third presentation was called, “Practical Steps to Transform Safety Performance” by David Tuberfield, AsiaPacific Managing Partner-Performance & Assurance, ERM. David mentioned that the rate of change in performance expectations was rising, and that this rate included things such as media, education, science, regulation, and so on. David claimed that all or most of the industries were reluctant to participate in auditing, that they wanted to try and run away from auditors.
Commentator Dr. Hyuck-Myun Kwon, PhD, Senior Director, KOSHA Ulsan Area Office (former Director, Safety Research in Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, KOSHA; Former Vice Chairman, Working Group for Chemical Accidents, OECD), pointed out there were 300 major accidents in Europe in the past 10 years. Dr. Kwon suggests that CEO leadership and management groups are important for preventing industrial accidents, especially chemical accidents. In 2010, Korea organized CEO awareness. Dr. Kwon asked industry to focus on minimum personal damage.
Another discussant, Yongmin Cho, PhD, Professor, Institute for Occupational & Environmental Health, Korea University, said the problem is how well the system was implemented. Similarly, Steve Devereaux, Lead Professional, Samsung Loss Control Center, Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance Col, Ltd, also viewed top-down management as being essential to solve safety, safety is also a commitment, including cultural perspective, and is also in need of a proactive approach.
The last discussant was Peter JH Kim, Managing Director, Pilz Korea Ltd., who said South Korea is 2nd from the bottom of the OECD, the next to the worst country for accidents. 1) Need government guidance including financial impact for considering expenses for implementation and procedure. 2) Management issue. 3) Promote awareness and cultural issue among workers. Wrongly, many CEOs think prevention cost is not important, the best method is to voluntarily seek safety prevention.
David Tuberfield, Asia-Pacific Managing Partner-Performance & Assurance
Layne Hartsell (USA) is an activist and scholar in residence at Center for Ethics in Science and Technology at Chulalongkorn University, and is a Fellow at the P2P Foundation and the New Club of Paris. Currently, he is conducting research on physical science in piezotronics and in the ubiquitous commons for P2P networked systems based in societal innovation and global justice. He is also a Senior Editor of the Global Digest magazine.