KCOMWEL announced its recognition of the death of Ms. D.E. Kim from breast cancer as an occupational death from her work at Samsung Semiconductor plant.
This is the second recognition of occupational disease of Samsung Semiconductor workers by Korean governments. The first case was aplastic anemia.
The decision of KCOMWEL to compensate for her death was made based on its recognition of work-relatedness of her cancer with exposures to radiation, hazardous chemicals, and shiftwork with nightwork which is classified as a probable human carcinogen by IARC.
It is known that 70~80% of breast cancer is developed by environmental factors. It is very rare to get malignancy like breast cancer at age of early 30’s. Night shift known as a carcinogen to human and stress which can disturb immunity as well as chemicals and radiation can contribute to develop the breast cancer of Ms.Kim.
Ms.Kim was born in 1976. She entered Samsung Semiconductor plant at Giheung in May 1995 at age of 19. Her first duty was done at the line number 7, which had just been set up and unstable. She worked at the Ion Implantation, photo, and etching processes in the same factory until January 2000.
After leaving the factory, Ms.Kim married and became a mother of two children. In August 2009, when she was 33 years old, stage Ⅲ of breast cancer was found. Despite of mastectomy and treatment, cancer spread to the bone and liver.
SHARPS had supported her to prepare documents to demand workers’ compensation to the government, but she passed away too early in March 2012 at her young age of 36. So now the compensation is for her family including two young children, not for her treatment.
The Ministry of Labor and Employment should be more active in prevention of occupational diseases by eliminating hazardous chemicals, reducing nightwork, and implementing protective policy for workers, as well as more active in recognition of occupational disease to secure workers’ right.
Most of all, Samsung should apologize to all the workers and their family who has been suffering from occupational diseases, and take a responsible and transparent steps to prevent further tragedy.