The amended Occupational Safety and Health Act of Korea (“OSHA”) entered into force on January 15, 2019. One major aspect of the revision is that it has raised the risk of liability of representatives of institutions and companies for workplace injuries in Korea. The amended Korean OSHA law is expected to increase the risk to company management, increase the liability of companies, and increase options for employees who are perceived to have been harmed because of the actions or inactions of employers. For other articles on Korean Employment & Labor Law see: Korean Employment Law Archives.
Korean OSHA Basics
- Importers or Manufacturers of harmful and/or dangerous chemicals should draft a Material Safety Data Sheet and send it to the Ministry of Employment & Labor for approval. The Material Safety Sheet is publicly published – in most cases.
- Hazardous work shall not be contracted out by companies to third parties. However, the amendment provides some notable exceptions (beyond the scope of this present post).
- Construction companies and other companies working outside should provide employees a Security Sheet that specifically details relevant health and safety concerns.
- Certain representative directors of companies have to provide an Annual Health & Safety Plan, approved by the board of directors of the company. An infringement of this obligation can be punished with a fine up to KRW 10,000,000.
- Some larger franchise businesses must establish a Health & Safety System for their employees. Franchisors have the duty to provide information on the danger and proper operation of certain work-related equipment.
- The scope of protected employees is extended and includes, also, non-employee workers, which are not, presently, subject to the Labor Standards Act of Korea.
- The Ministry of Employment & Labor is able to order an immediate suspension of work – if an urgent hazardous industrial accident occurs.
Increased Penalty for violations of Korean OSHA
- The death of an employee in Korea based on the violations of Korean OSH obligations may be penalized with up to 10 years of imprisonment or a fine of up to KRW 1,000,000,000.
- The liability of a company towards its contracted employees regarding the health and safety of contracted employees may be penalized with imprisonment for up to five years or with a fine of up to KRW 50,000,000.
- In case of an urgent dangerous risk at the workplace, employees have now the right to unilaterally suspend work and immediately leave the hazardous area. Any action of the company preventing an employee from exercising this right may be penalized with imprisonment for up to one year or with a fine up to KRW 10,000,000.
The current Occupational Safety and Health Act may be found at: Korean OSHA.
As noted above, the amended Korean OSHA law is expected to increase the risk to company management and companies while increasing options for employees in Korea who are perceived to have been harmed because of the actions or inaction of employers. We, highly, recommend that any company operating in an industry that poses a risk to the health and safety of employees – to have a proactive law firm in Korea conduct a comprehensive compliance audit and read the following post on: Serious Accidents Prevention Act. The Act imposes criminal liability on managers and executives.
- Amendment to Korea’s Occupational Safety and Health Act in 2019
- Korea’s Occupational Safety and Health Act Amendments for 2018 (OSHA Korea Updates)
- Occupational Safety in Korea: Serious Accidents Punishment Act
- Employer Duties during Health Emergencies in Korea: MERS Outbreak in Korea
- Korean Independent Contractor Risks: Korean Labor Standards Act Basics
- Korean Labor Law Checklist for Employers and Employees
- Dismissal of Employees in Korea: Supreme Court of Korea Precedent
- Korea Focuses on Greater Control over Imported Food – Amendment to the Special Act on Imported Food Safety Control 2019
- Amendment to Korea’s Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Law
- Can you claim severance pay from a Non-Korean Employer?