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GS Caltex dispatches robots into hazardous ops with nitrogen asphyxiation risks

GS Caltex President and CEO Hur Sae-hong (GS Caltex)
GS Caltex President and CEO Hur Sae-hong (GS Caltex)
GS Caltex said Tuesday that it has deployed robots to maintenance tasks that entail risks of nitrogen asphyxiation, accelerating its digital transformation drive.

According to the South Korean total energy company, its robot has successfully conducted a maintenance operation at the firm’s petrochemicals facility filled with nitrogen. The inert gas reduces fire risks during operation, but puts workers at risk of suffocation.

Of 65 cases of workplace nitrogen asphyxiation cases in the last four years, 31 resulted in loss of life. The death rate by nitrogen asphyxiation was 47.7 percent, 30 times higher than 1.5 percent of all industrial accidents, data from the Korea Occupational Health & Safety Agency showed.

“The idea to send robots instead of human workers was suggested voluntarily by an employee who participated in the ‘self-designed business trip,’ the firm’s open innovation program that allows employees to form groups freely and submit promising ideas,” a company official said.

GS Caltex President and CEO Hur Sae-hong called for an all-out digital transformation, urging staff and executives to apply the technologies to the field.

“We have to create synergies by embracing new ideas and adopting new methods that haven’t been tried before. In the ever-changing business environment, it’s important to form a business ecosystem that seeks coexistence beyond industry boundaries,” GS Caltex President and CEO

By Kim Byung-wook (