From January 27th, the Act on the Punishment of Critical Disasters, etc. came into force. Despite the enforcement of the law, confusion over the scope of application and subject of punishment continues in the fields. Even before the execution of the law, the media and the construction industry focused on whether the chief executive officer (CEO) is the subject of punishment or not. In the industry, there was a widespread tension not to be the first case of punishment. For example, a ridiculous situation occurred in which the construction site was preemptively suspended a few days before the New Year’s holiday in most construction sites. This shows that industry was not prepared to adopt the law. Current confusion is the result of insufficient communication among stakeholders. The range of legality and illegality should be able to recognized in common sense, and the repercussion effect should have been carefully considered before the execution. Moreover, it is a case of the tail wagging the dog that the subject of punishment is being the point of interest, not concentrating on preventing industrial accident and guaranteeing safety of workers.
For now, it is difficult to estimate the ripple effect of hasty enforcement of the law. I am not denying the necessity of law, but pointing that the characteristics of industrial sites have not been carefully and thoroughly considered. For example, suppose an apartment complex reconstruction. If reconstruction work is already underway, the problem may be more serious. There is a constraint on the termination of construction within the limited amount of money and construction period specified in the contract. However, with the law suddenly being implemented, the probability of completing the construction within the specified budget and time will be lowered as additional cost will be needed to fulfill reinforced safety requirements. However, there is no possibility that union members or general sellers, the people who placed the order, will generously understand such circumstances, and extend the period or compensate for additional construction costs. From the standpoint of the constructor, whose biggest goal is to pursue profits, they have no choice but to proceed with the construction even playing tricks. In addition, if such situation happens, thousands of households will have a problem since the moving in date is postponed, and the resulting compensation problem will also arise. It does not mean that the construction should be carried out in the way ignoring safety due to the situation above. In applying the law, it is possible to reasonably solve the problem only when the will of agreement is preceded between the participants in the market. It is difficult to find traces of concern about future constructions. To fully enforce the law, it should have carefully considered how to supplement the current calculation of optimum duration and standard construction cost guidelines administrated by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. In other words, current construction costs, construction period, and supervision work need amendment in accordance with the significant increase in safety work, but such follow up measures have not even begun. It gives a feeling of compulsory instruction to follow the new law immediately since safety management has been neglected so far.
Making and maintaining zero accidents at construction sites is a level that even the gods cannot solve. Perfect control at the site is impossible as the workers working at the site change day by day, and complex subcontracting relationships and interests are intertwined. Numerous research reports cite safety awareness as one of the key causes of safety accidents. However, it is unrealistic to expect that the safety awareness of people working in sites will suddenly improve significantly with the enforcement of strong law. Rather it is more realistic to plan medium to long-term strategy to systematically implement safety education from an early age to gradually improve the awareness of the importance of safety of the younger. In other words, over the next five or ten years, long-term concerns to reach safety level of 90%, 100%, or even exceeding the level of advanced countries should begin. Now that the ship has already departed and in order to operate the ship safely, it is necessary to derive agendas such as what was lacking in legislation and which follow-up measures such as reasonable supplementary legislation or improvement in current system are needed. Thinking the Act on the Punishment of Critical Disaster as a building, it is no different from the result of poor construction that has been completed only on the appearances. For it to be a reasonable law that everyone can emphasize, it is time to start working on repairing the defects first.
Choi Jong-soo email@example.com
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