South Korea’s administrative court has rejected at least two separate appeals filed for workers’ compensation by victims of Samsung’s blood-disorder cluster by dismissing the causal link between a widely recognized cancer-causing chemical and two former workers of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., said a researcher in a recent study published in an academic journal.
Group 1 Carcinogen
The two workers who suffered from leukemia and malignant lymphoma had used trichloroethylene on their jobs at Samsung’s chip labs. In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a cancer risk research arm of the World Health Organization, upgraded the carcinogenic-risk level of the chemical to Group 1 from Group 2.
Ill-informed or Negligent
However, after the upgrade by the agency that practically wrote the global rules of cancer risks, the court dismissed the appeals, citing the old risk level, Group 2, Kim Jongyoung, a sociologist with Kyung Hee University in Seoul, in his paper, “The SHARPS Movement And The Political Economy of Workers’ Health” published in the spring 2016 issue of The Economy and Society. Prof. Kim did not further elaborate whether the court was ill-informed regarding the update or just negligent.
The author identified the two victims only by the English-language initials S and K at their families’ request. Their appeals being thrown out, the two workers have exhausted legal remedies for workers’ compensation.
“Even Samsung Does Not Deny It”
Trichloroethylene is such a high-risk carcinogen that even Samsung has questioned the integrity of the rulings, according to Prof. Kim who quoted an anonymous Samsung source as the following: “Actually, it was S who was exposed to trichloroethylene, and he developed lymphoma.” The source went on saying: “It is an almost generally accepted fact that trichloroethylene can cause malignant lymphoma.”
“Even Samsung does not deny it,” the source concluded.
Samsung Ignores It
It is probably true that Samsung does not deny the risk of carcinogens used in its chip production. It is undeniably true that Samsung has been doing little to prevent such risk and pay cluster victims sufficient compensation. Also, it is undoubtedly true that lax regulatory oversight, coupled with court negligence and media bias, is the enabler of Samsung’s brazenness.
Since Oct. 8, 2015, SHARPS and its supporters have been staging a sit-in at Samsung’s corporate headquarters in south Seoul, calling for the world’s largest technology company to: 1) institute a permanent, independently verifiable safety program; 2) compensate all victims of occupational disease transparently and sufficiently; and 3) make a sincere and full apology.