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http://www.labortoday.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=155900


[labor news] Amendment to Occupational Safety and Health Act passes the National Assembly


▲ Kim Mi-sook(center), mother of the late Kim Yong-gyun sits outside of the meeting room of the Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly, waiting for an agreement with regard to the whole amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act on December 27. [Kim Hak-tae/The Labor Today]

The whole amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act called Kim Yong-gyun Act was passed by the National Assembly on December 27.

The Environment and Labor Committee of the National Assembly held a meeting of the Employment and Labor Subcommittee(bill deliberation subcommittee) and reached an agreement on the whole amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act on the afternoon of December 27. The agreed bill was transferred to the Legislation and Judicial Committee and passed by the National Assembly in its plenary session on the same day.

Some observed with concerns that the bill passage would be abortive, because the main opposition Liberty Korea Party was delaying the bill passage by arguing for “holding a public hearing to accumulate the opinions”. Despite unpredictable circumstances surrounding the bill passage, with a sigh of relief, policy chiefs of the ruling Democratic Party and the opposition Liberty Korea Party and Bareunmirae Party and their executive secretaries of the Environment and Labor Committee met and reached a last minute compromise to salvage the bill.

According to the amendment bill, the term “worker” covered by the protection of the Occupational Safety and Health Act expands from a worker defined in the Labor Standards Act to “a person who offers labor”. The scope of application aims to extend its protection to the workers in the special forms of employment and parcel delivery workers(dependent self-employed workers) who are not recognized as a worker in the Labor Standards Act.

The current law allows business contract of harmful or hazardous work such as the work of plating with obtaining the authorization from the Labor Minister, but the new amendment to the Act prohibits harmful or hazardous work from being contracted out. Contracting out is only allowed for temporary and intermittent work, or the use of suppliers’ technology which are deemed essential and necessary for the business with the permission from the Labor Minister.

The workplaces for which the primary contractors should take safety and health measures expand to all workplaces of the primary contractors from the current 22 dangerous workplaces. It includes the provided or designated places which are controlled and managed by a primary contractor, even though they do not belong to the primary contractor. The government draft bill was “the places that a primary contractor provides or designates,” but the business circle strongly demanded to add the wording of “controlled and managed”.

A primary contractor in violation of the regulation shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine not exceeding 30 million won, further strengthened from the current punishment level of not more than one year in prison or a fine not exceeding 10 million won. However, it was lower compared to the government draft bill of the imprisonment for not more than five years and a fine not exceeding 50 million won, which was a compromise between the ruling and opposition parties by reflecting the views of the business circle.

In case a person dies of an industrial accident, the employer shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than seven years or a fine not exceeding 100 million won, maintaining the same level of the current Act. A corporate representative shall be punished for a fine not exceeding 1 billion won, which was softened from the government draft of the imprisonment of not more than ten years. If another industrial accident recurs within five years in violation of the law, punishment shall be added up to 50 percent of the current penalty level. The amendment also includes that in case a company does not make public the name, ingredients and composition of the substance listed on the material safety data sheets(MSDS), the company has to seek for the authorization from the Labor Minister. The amendment also allows a worker to suspend the operation when there is an imminent danger of an industrial accident.

reported by Kim Hak-tae
translated by Kim Sung-jin


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