By Kim Gyeong-lak
The Samsung Electronics semiconductor production line, which has been the subject of controversy due to a series of health complications including leukemia cases among its employees, will undergo a workplace environment investigation starting in mid-July. However, plans for participation by civic organizations like Banollim that have called on Samsung to take responsibility for the leukemia cases, as well as bereaved families of Samsung employees who died from the disease, failed to come to investigation.
Samsung Electronics announced plans Thursday to form an investigation team made up of some 20 industrial health researchers from South Korea and abroad and carry out a yearlong investigation of the semiconductor production line work environment beginning in mid-July. Samsung has been swept up in a firestorm of controversy over workplace environment hazards as some twenty employees who worked on the line over the past decade or so have developed leukemia or lymphoma. Ten of these employees subsequently died, according to Samsung Electronics.
The study is being led by Environ, an environmental health consultancy headquartered in Washington, D.C. Established in 1982, the company is considered an authority in chemical hazard assessment and environment hazard management, Samsung Electronics stated. Also participating in the study are researchers from U.S. public health graduate schools at Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins University, as well as researchers from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology.
Samsung Electronics said that it plans to examine the entire semiconductor manufacturing process to determine the presence of workplace environment hazards and carcinogenic materials, and to investigate the possibility of future illnesses.
“The study will also examine connections between the exposure to harmful materials on the production line and the duties of the people who became ill,” the company said.
Meanwhile, bereaved family members of deceased Samsung employees and groups such as Banollim that have made allegations about Samsung’s responsibility for the leukemia cases decided not to take part in the examination.
In April, Samsung Electronics said that if Banollim were to nominate a trustworthy organization, it would consider plans for including it on the investigation team.
Gong Yu Jeong-ok, an industrial medicine physician and Banollim member, said that she did receive a request for participation from a Sungkyunkwan University professor surnamed Kim, but she did not accept “because while Samsung was making requests for a joint investigation, at the same time it was doing what amounted to buying off the family members of the victims.”
The group leveled allegations earlier this month that Samsung Electronics has been persuading the family members of victims to drop their industrial accident lawsuits by offering them considerable sums of money.
See original article on The Hangyoreh website: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/430663.html