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MOEL’s 2022 Occupational Safety Supervision Plan Following the Enforcement of the SAPA


Following the enforcement of the Serious Accidents Punishment Act (the “SAPA”), the Ministry of Employment and Labor (the “MOEL”) has set the regulatory target as settlement of the SAPA and substantial reduction of industrial fatalities.  In this regard, the MOEL recently announced the 2022 Comprehensive Plan on Supervision of Occupational Safety and Health (the “Plan”), which revised the previous supervision subjects and methods specifically to facilitate businesses’ fulfillment of their obligation to secure safety and health under the SAPA.  The key details of the Plan are as follows:

  • Special management of high-risk workplaces

The MOEL will specially manage high-risk workplaces for serious accidents.  ① High-risk workplaces will be selected from those businesses with 50 or more employees or construction businesses with construction cost of KRW 5 billion or more (i.e., those businesses subject to the SAPA this year).  In doing this, the MOEL will comprehensively consider multiple risk factors such as industrial accident status and possession of dangerous machinery for the past five years.  ② The selected workplaces will be subject to regular preventive actions through close cooperation among the Regional Labor Office, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, and private accident prevention agencies.  ③ Workplaces with poor safety management will be subject to strict supervision under the principle of “zero” tolerance.

  • Focused supervision on key risk factors of deaths

The MOEL will focus on the reduction of fatalities through preemptive supervision over key risk factors.  To this end, the MOEL will conduct on-site inspection and various supervisions.  ① On the on-site inspection, the MOEL will intensively inspect the compliance status of the top three safety measures (falling accidents, jams, and wearing of protective gears) and provide necessary supervision at the same time.  ② Based on the result of the inspection, the MOEL will conduct joint inspection or supervision in connection with local governments and private accident prevention agencies.  ③ Further, actively promoting cooperation with local governments, the MOEL will identify industries with frequent fatalities in each region and focus on supervising the compliance with relevant key safety measures.

  • Strengthening of the preventive supervision of head office and service recipient companies

The MOEL will strengthen the supervision of head office and service recipient companies in order to fundamentally improve the on-site work safety.  ① Through service recipient company-centered supervision, companies with frequent fatalities will be forced to take measures to prevent accidents at all of their sites, including the sites where accidents previously occurred.  ② The MOEL will focus on supervising whether sufficient safety measures have been taken for workers of service providing company, with the focus on the service recipient company.  ③ In the case of supervision after the occurrence of an accident, for the purpose of preventing additional accidents rather than punishment, the MOEL plans to provide an opportunity for self-correction through safety and health improvement planning, and will conduct random inspections to check whether the plan is properly implemented.  However, for companies that have faced public criticism (e.g., for large-scale accidents, frequent occurrences of serious accidents, etc.), the MOEL will pursue strong “planning and supervision” on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, which will be conducted at a degree equivalent to special supervisions.  ④ The special supervision will be conducted when there is (i) the death of two or more persons, (ii) the death of three or more persons for one year, or (iii) the occurrence of a serious accident due to violation of a work suspension order, etc., and the inspection will be conducted on the head office and all sites.

  • Providing support for establishment and implementation of safety and health management system 

The quality of the MOEL supervision will be further improved to provide systematic support to companies for the establishment and implementation of their safety and health management system.  The MOEL will (i) check key points of the safety and health management system and present directions for their improvement; and (ii) supplement the safety and health checklist to check whether the Occupational Safety and Health Act and its subordinate statutes are complied with to the extent that it is possible to prevent industrial accidents at workplaces.  The MOEL also plans to expand the period of supervision.

With the enforcement of the SAPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Labor Inspectors’ Work Regulations were also partially amended on January 28, 2022.  The key details of the amendment, including the scope of work performed by labor inspectors, are as follows:

  • Classified the “supervision” into regular/occasional/special supervisions to intuitively clarify the types of supervision.

  • Added the head of the Gyeonggi-do branch, which has a “Wide-Area Serious Accident Management Division”, as a special inspector, and clarified the subjects of the special supervision. 

  • Deleted the provision on private outsourcing of inspection and investigation, which lacks legal bases.

  • Established a legal basis on jurisdiction for investigation of serious accidents under the SAPA. 

  • Established a legal basis for the establishment of investigation review committee composed of external experts, to minimize controversy over whether to commence an investigation of serious industrial accident caused by an occupational disease and the appropriateness thereof.

  • Amended the inspection checklist to reflect all amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act effective as of January 16, 2020. 

  • Amended the accident (investigation) report form as serious industrial accidents were added as a type of accident.


[Korean version]