The current status and the future of occupational safety and health in Korea

From the 1970s to 2000, the occupational accident rate in Korea showed a continuous decline. However, the rate has remained stagnant since 2000 even when the fatal injury rate has decreased 40% from that year. Injuries caused by being caught in objects have decreased while those caused by slips and falls on same level and falls from the height have increased. In 2010, the non-fatal injury rate per 100 employees was 0.63 while the fatal injury rate per 100,000 employees was 9.74. The construction industry accounted for 40.2% of all fatal injuries, and falls from the height caused 54.3% of the fatality. Musculoskeletal diseases accounted for 78.8% of the non-fatal occupational diseases while cardio-cerebrovascular diseases and pneumoconiosis are the two major fatal occupational diseases. Occupational diseases caused by chemical agents have decreased to 0.6% of all cases. However, there were several social disputes related to occupational diseases caused by low level of chemicals such as leukemia in a semiconductor company. Korea planned to reduce the fatal injury rate and total workday loss by 30% by 2015. In order to achieve this goal, the government will focus on vulnerable groups in collaboration with allies such as professional associations or organizations.

Source : Kang SK. Ind. Health 2012; 50(1): 12-16.

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