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Hyundai Heavy worker dies in work accident

[THE INVESTOR] A South Korean worker hired by the world’s biggest shipbuilderHyundai Heavy Industries died on July 19 while working on a shipbuilding project for Norwegian oil company Statoil.

The 55-year-old man, surnamed Shin, died after falling off scaffold at 2:20 p.m. He was taken to a nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead two hours later. He sustained injuries to his face and neck as well as fractures in his arms and both legs.

This year alone, eight workers have lost their lives in occupational accidents while working at Hyundai Heavy Industries and its subsidiaries’ shipyard allegedly due to poor safety conditions there. Five of them were working for subcontracted firms.

On May 11, a 30-year-old worker, surnamed Wi, who was working on a shipbuilding project for Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries, an affiliate of Hyundai Heavy Industries, died after falling off storage inside a crude oil carrier while working without safety fences.

On May 10, a 41-year-old man, surnamed Kim, belonging to another Hyundai Heavy Industries’ subsidiary Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, died after falling from the ladder with a paint pot in one hand.

Hyundai Heavy Industries has come under fire for outsourcing dangerous jobs to subcontracted workers and failing to improve unsafe working environments as well as dodging responsibility for safety-related work accidents.

Park Hye-young, a labor attorney for the Solidarity for Worker’s Health, argued that his death was a preventable accident.

“It is appalling that workers still have to die due to dangerous working conditions despite a series of similar kinds of deaths at Hyundai Heavy Industries’ shipyards,” she said. “This just shows the company’s indifference to workers’ deaths.”

Over three years, 24 workers died while working for the shipbuilders.

“Workers for subcontracting firms are exposed to bigger dangers because they have no labor unions to represent them,” she said. “Hyundai Heavy Industries should meet with its irregular employees to discuss safety measures to improve its working environment.”

Meanwhile, the unions of Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Heavy Industries on Tuesday launched a partial strike in protest against the company’s plan to expand the peak wage system and freeze their wages for this year.

The company has suffered massive losses in the wake of diminishing global demand and competition from Chinese rivals, with the government pressuring it to sell assets, cut its workforce and streamline businesses in return for financial aid.

By Ock Hyun-ju / The Korea Herald (

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