|Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in Ulsan Metropolitan City / Courtesy of Hyundai Heavy Industries|
By Lee Hyo-jin
A subcontracted worker hired by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) died while working at a shipyard in Ulsan Metropolitan City, according to Korea's biggest shipbuilder Friday.
The 34-year-old man, surnamed Kim, was found unconscious at around 11:20 a.m. Thursday in an LNG carrying vessel where he was working on welding operations.
He was immediately taken to Ulsan University Hospital, but was pronounced dead shortly after. The cause of death is assumed to be argon gas poisoning. Argon gas is used to control air pressure in welding. It can be fatal if a person is exposed to the gas for a long period of time in an enclosed area.
This year alone, there have been three more tragic accidents in HHI which led to workers' deaths.
In February, a subcontracted worker fell from a height of 21 meters and died. On April 16 and 21, two workers were killed in separate accidents caused by a "big door" and a hydraulically operated door.
Due to the repeated fatal accidents, the Ministry of Employment and Labor had conducted a special investigation on industrial safety and health for eight days from May 11 to 20. However, the fourth accident occurred only one day after the investigation was completed.
The union has called for a full stop on operations in the LNG vessel where the worker was found.
"We deeply regret this loss, as we were putting all our efforts on safety control by setting up comprehensive measures following several serious accidents this year," an official at Hyundai Heavy told The Korea Times.
"HHI will actively cooperate with the authorities' investigation to clarify the exact cause of the accident. Also, we will conduct a company-wide inspection on our safety management system to prevent further accidents."