Under the Enforcement Decree of the Serious Accidents Punishment Act (the “SAPA”), companies subject to the SAPA must check their compliance status – at least once every six months – with respect to the seven items enumerated below. The SAPA duties are imposed on each company’s “responsible management personnel” (the “RMP”) as defined by the SAPA, who must establish and operate the company’s safety and health management system, by allocating budget, personnel and organizational resources, to secure safety and health.
The six-month cycle is deemed to run from January 1 through June 30 and from July 1 through December 31 of each calendar year. This means that the first check will need to be completed by June 30, 2022 and the second by December 31, 2022, for companies subject to the SAPA from January 27, 2022 – when the SAPA became effective for companies with 50 or more employees or construction projects with value of KRW 5 billion or more.
The following is the list of the seven “compliance check” items under the SAPA which must be addressed at least once every six months. It is worth mentioning that in the “serious accident” cases triggering SAPA investigations since January 27, 2022, investigative bodies have conducted close scrutiny of the companies’ compliance with items 1, 2, 3 and 4 below.
1. Assess risks in light of the specific attributes of the company’s business and its workplace
Prepare work procedure to verify and remedy hazards and risk factors
Take necessary remediation measures
2. Appoint safety and health personnel and provide them with the necessary authority and resources to fulfill their duties
Provide necessary authority and budget
Manage safety and health personnel
3. Obtain views of workers concerning safety and health matters
Must establish procedures for obtaining the views of the workers
Must establish criteria for determining whether to follow the views of the workers
- In case workers’ views are not followed, document the reason why not and explain the same to the workers
4. Prepare an accident manual for addressing serious accidents, including: (i) work suspension; (ii) evacuation of employees; (iii) removal of risk factor; (iv) first aid for victims of serious accidents and (v) measures to prevent additional harm due to serious accidents
5. Secure the safety and health of third party workers in case the company engages in outsourcing/subcontracting/delegation of its work
Select qualified third party service providers with capabilities and know-how to prevent industrial accidents
6. Check compliance status concerning fulfillment of duties under safety and health related laws
The RMP’s role is to establish a safety and health management system and to work via a dedicated organization, through which the RMP receives reports on SAPA compliance, issues instructions and implements remediation measures
7. Check completion of safety and health training concerning risk factors
If the required training has not been conducted, then take steps to implement such training by securing a budget and relevant personnel
The Minister of Employment and Labor sent a letter on June 16, 2022 to approximately 6,000 CEOs of Korean companies, stating that the RMPs should check on safety and health compliance status in the workplace, including receiving reports and taking necessary measures. Given such reminder, it would be prudent for companies subject to the SAPA and their RMPs to ensure that the aforementioned “check” items are addressed in a timely manner.