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As President of the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA), Kil-Sang Park ensures that the agency’s many initiatives, programs and policies live up to its mission of protecting “the lives and health of working people” in Korea. In this interview, Park provides background on KOSHA’s development, discusses the status of current KOSHA research projects and outlines the agency’s goals for this year.

Please provide a brief description of your role and responsibilities as President of KOSHA.

The development of the information technology industry and the introduction of competition systems have generated strong winds of change that have swept through every corner of Korean society, including public sectors.

To cope with these changes, KOSHA adopted as its mission “We protect the lives and health of working people” last year. Likewise, it has realized customer-oriented value based on “expertise” and “creativity” under the philosophy of “respect for life.”

To develop as an institution that customers trust and to help prevent industrial accidents, we have implemented management policies that:

  • Provide services to prevent industrial accidents
  • Develop special business projects to meet future demands from customers’ perspective
  • Enforce organizational capabilities that will address future demands and customers’ needs

While infrastructure will be expanded over time, we will focus on accident prevention technologies, operation of many safety and health education programs and technical support for workplaces with poor working environments.

What industrial events or issues led to KOSHA’s establishment in 1987?

In the 1960s, Korea realized economic development and remarkable economic growth. During the first and second economic development plans in particular, Korea recorded an outstanding annual average growth rate of 11%.

Industrialization accompanied by fast economic growth caused the national economy to rely more on the manufacturing sectors, with industrial structures shifting from agriculture-oriented or primary industries to secondary and tertiary industries. These led to modernization processes that would later enable Korea to build the necessary foundation for an industrial country.

Still, such accelerated economic growth, expanded industrial facilities, diversified work processes, high-rise buildings and massive use of hazardous materials resulted in a large number of workers sustaining injuries in industrial accidents and contracting occupational diseases, which incurred losses of invaluable technical human resources, weakened companies’ international competitiveness and blocked the development of the national economy.

To prevent industrial accidents and occupational diseases, the Korean government established and proclaimed the “Industrial Safety and Health Law.”

However, even with these measures, accidents continued to increase because of the lack of safety and health experts required to prevent industrial accidents in developed industrial societies, the malfunction of private institutions charged with preventing industrial accidents and companies’ disinterest.

To address these issues, in December 1987, the Korean government established KOSHA, a public agency specializing in the prevention of industrial accidents.

What are KOSHA’s goals for 2007?

This year, KOSHA expects to reduce the rate of industrial accidents, which has remained unchanged since 1998 when it stood at 0.68%. Specifically, we will address the changing safety and health environments and provide accident prevention technologies, facility improvement funds and information and education services to protect workers’ lives and health.

Toward this end, KOSHA will redesign inefficient internal jobs and unreasonable business procedures into customer-oriented processes and expand the knowledge and information base, thus improving the capabilities of field institutions that work directly with customers and becoming an industrial accident prevention institution that customers trust.

What is the “Strategy for Occupational Safety and Health in Korea?”

Alongside the changing industrial structures and employment types are new risk factors. Thus, preventive measures from a new viewpoint should be taken in occupational safety and health for this year as well. For example, we need more comprehensive preparations for vulnerable workers such as those age 50 or older, female workers and immigrant workers. We also may expand the application of strict international regulations.

The trend toward expanding international regulations is expected to restrict the manufacture or distribution of products that can harm the human body or cause economic losses by making safety and health technical barriers to trade (TBT).

Therefore, KOSHA will continue to ensure worker safety and health by addressing the changing safety and health environments, redefining management in a transparent manner and providing new technological safety and health services that can satisfy customers.

Naturally, we will concentrate on strengthening safety and health management, especially in the vulnerable sectors.

We intend to continue the “Clean Workplace Program” to improve working conditions and to prevent industrial accidents, especially in small-sized enterprises with less than 50 workers. These account for more than 69% of all accidents and lack the self-regulatory base of safety and health management in both financial and technological terms.

We plan to support safety and health education for employees of shipbuilding companies with workforces greater than 100 persons. These workers often face complicated and dangerous work processes such as assembly and transport of heavy materials. Inexperienced workers of seaport cargo companies or workers of their partner companies are frequently involved in accidents.

Through private institutions specializing in accident prevention, we will continue to assist enterprises that own machinery and equipment such as cranes and lifts and that employ less than 50 persons.

We will install and operate accident prevention systems for vulnerable workers and provide tailored technologies and education to prevent the occurrence of accidents involving elderly, female and foreign workers.

We will foster voluntary workplace safety management abilities, including risk assessment techniques.

For manufacturers that employ less than 300 workers, we will provide specialized technologies, funds and tailored education to enable the installation of voluntary safety management systems and to develop workplaces “with the best safety and health.”

We will expand the voluntary “Occupational Safety and Health Management System” (KOSHA 18001) certification, which systematically manages intra-worksite and accident-causing risk factors in connection with production factors, quantifies and evaluates potential risk factors and supports the establishment of a voluntary safety management system based on the degree of risk involved.

For construction sites, the establishment of voluntary safety management systems will be supported in consultation with and through the evaluation of their head offices and clients. We will provide comprehensive voluntary safety management support for companies with construction capabilities ranked 100 th or lower.

Unhealthy working environments will be improved, and health management of workers will be strengthened.

When conducting work environment measurements at small-scale construction sites or in workplaces with dangerous work processes that carry the risk of oxygen deficiency or suffocation, we will support the improvement of working conditions, particularly when the degree of hazardous exposure exceeds one half of the Korean Occupational Exposure Level, and we will manage chemical substances known to cause occupational diseases.

We will provide funds and relevant technologies to improve workplaces that:

  • Have a high percentage of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among workers
  • Have work processes that generate high-level noises or affect the physical workload
  • Use chemical substances or produce dust

For those who work with cancer-causing materials such as benzene or asbestos or for those who have retired from such work, we have a permanent lifelong health management policy through a health management pocketbook program.

Activities for the safety of machinery, equipment and facilities will also be implemented.

Prior to the occurrence of an accident, scientific inspections will be conducted during the design, manufacture and completion or installation of dangerous machinery and equipment to eliminate risk factors that can cause accidents.

We will assist exporters in acquiring overseas certifications of safety and reliability for their industrial machinery and equipment to help them overcome the trade barriers of advanced countries.

Together with comprehensive inspection and certification activities in the manufacture of protective devices and personal protective equipment, the process for checking and guaranteeing their functionality will be improved to ensure quality at the distribution stages.

We will strengthen cooperation with foreign technical institutions while reinforcing practical workplace studies.

We will enhance the efficacy of industrial accident prevention activities while reinforcing the necessary practical studies that can help solve worksite problems.

We will conduct in-depth analyses of accident–related statistics by classifying them into industrial accidents and occupational diseases to create a policy for the prevention of industrial accidents and to address these accidents speedily and accurately.

We will reinforce international cooperation through agreements with foreign technical institutions or between countries to share advanced safety and health technologies.

Finally, we will push for the institutionalization of a safety culture as soon as possible through the enhancement of safety consciousness at workplaces and the incorporation of safety-conscious activities nationwide.

We will provide stratified education for employers, workers and safety and health personnel and user-oriented education that focuses on practical cases and training to upgrade the safety consciousness of both employees and employers.

We will continue to realize customer satisfaction through localized educational activities at centers in six key areas and to provide accident prevention education for immigrant workers.

In addition, we will promote the importance of safety and health based on vulnerable season, industry and accident type, and we will educate kindergarten students, primary school students and teachers on school safety. We will ensure that safety culture takes root in Korean society.

KOSHA’s Clean Workplace Program provides means and funds to improve safety, health and environmental (SH&E) conditions in small- and medium-sized workplaces. What types of facilities are eligible to participate in the program, and how does KOSHA ensure that good SH&E conditions are maintained after a facility has been upgraded?

Please also describe the Clean Workplace Program’s success rate and how it has helped reduce occupational injuries, accidents and fatalities in Korea since its inception.

The Clean Workplace Program helps manufacturing companies that have less than 50 employees and are vulnerable to industrial accidents and diseases improve their safety and health facilities through the provision of relevant technologies and financial support.

The facilities provided through the Clean Workplace Program include those for securing basic safety in workplaces (i.e., storage racks or other items), safety devices for dangerous machinery and equipment (i.e., cranes and press), facilities designed to improve working conditions (i.e. worksite noise-reducing facilities, dust and hazardous material removers, etc.) and work processes to prevent MSDs (i.e., movable carriers, transport facilities, etc.).

As part of the agency’s post-hoc management, its experts visit the workplaces one year after providing financial support to help them maintain the same working conditions they had when they were designated as “clean workplaces.” This support comes in the form of SH&E–related technologies.

A survey of 32,395 “clean workplaces” from October 2001 to December 2006 showed that accident rates dropped by 31.1% on average and related benefits increased 6.34 times compared to the amount of investment.

Our experts perform risk assessment consulting for small-sized workplaces that have asked for support under the Clean Workplace Program. We partially subsidize the necessary expenses for facility improvements to eliminate risk factors and to establish healthy and safe “clean workplaces” that not only minimize industrial accidents, but also increase productivity and make it easier to find a job. This helps secure corporate competitiveness.

What is KOSHA 18001, and how do workplaces qualify for this certification?

KOSHA 18001 is a voluntary safety and health management system in which employers carry out measures to prevent industrial accidents and to minimize corporate losses. The system defines safety and health policies based on voluntary management policies, stipulates detailed execution guidelines and standards, periodically self-evaluates safety and health plan performance results and requests improvement activities.

For the certification procedure, KOSHA audits applications received from workplaces that have implemented their own safety and health management system based on a total of 37 items, which include:

  • 18 items related to safety and health management systems
  • 13 items related to the level of safety and health activities
  • 6 items related to interviews with safety and health management

So far, 337 workplaces have received KOSHA 18001 certification.

The certification is valid for three years, with post-hoc management carried out every year for the next three years. Validity extension is decided in the last year based on review of the reissued certificate.

Workplaces in Korea use KOSHA’s Safety and Health Technology Standard, or the KOSHA Code, to build safety and health systems, perform diagnostic tests and inspections and control safety and health hazards. What is the basis of the KOSHA Code, and are there any other codes or standards with which workplaces must comply?

As the standard for securing workplace safety and health in code form, the KOSHA Code states the technological standards per field (i.e., machinery and instruments, safety management, industrial health, industrial hygiene and work processes for dangerous facilities).

To date, a total of 262 KOSHA Codes have been issued and disseminated. We estimate that these codes are accessed and used approximately 150,000 times per year (based on KOSHA website traffic).

While employers must comply with the Industrial Safety & Health Act, the Enforcement Ordinance and Enforcement Regulations, the KOSHA Code is intended for voluntary application by workplaces since they only serve as guidelines for technical details other than those specified in laws and regulations.

What are the greatest challenges facing Korea’s construction industry right now, and how does KOSHA plan to address these challenges this year?

Korea’s industrial accident rate has declined from 4.85% in 1970 to 0.99%, or less than 1%, in 1995 to a remarkable 0.77% in 2005.

However, in the construction industry, the number of fatalities remains high at 509, accounting for 25.3% of the total (2,009).

Thus, we first review a “Plan for Preventing Dangerous Work,” which relevant construction sites submit prior to the start of construction. The plan applies to five construction types (those with high risks, such as tunnel, bridge or high-rise construction) with large-scale dangers and removes such risks in advance. We visit the sites semiannually to check if the plan has been implemented effectively and then require them to remove any remaining risk factors.

Five construction projects that require submission of a “Plan for Preventing Dangerous Work” include:

  • A structure more than 31m high
  • Construction of a bridge with a maximum span longer than 50m
  • Tunnel construction work
  • Dam construction work
  • Excavation construction more than 10m deep

As for the seven construction types (Social Overhead Capital construction project) with a high risk of large-scale accidents, including subway and high-speed railways, both employers and employees will prepare and execute voluntary plans for worksite safety (employer/employee joint program for the prevention of accidents) to enable the reinforcement of voluntary safety activities. Technological assistance is also provided to workplaces in which a lack of safety measures results in death or the emergence of social issues.

Disseminating “KOSHA 18001 for the Construction Industry” to public institution clients enables the management of safety and health-related activities at construction sites and reduces the number of accidents.

For the improvement of safety management in small-scale construction work estimated at 300 million KRW or less and accounting for about 42% of construction accidents because of their inferior working conditions, we provide technical assistance in the prevention of fall or trip accidents (17,000 worksites).

We calculate the conversion rate of industrial accidents for construction companies with construction capabilities ranked 100 th or lower and award merit points (up to +2 points) according to the rating of an applicant construction company. Public institution clients use this when reviewing the prequalification items for the tender of public construction contracts valued at more than $200,000. We also assign demerit points of -0.2 (up to -2 points) per case of withholding accident information to promote the construction industry’s self-regulatory accident prevention activities.

When estimating construction costs, clients are required to include safety and health management expenses related to worksite safety activities (i.e., safety manager’s salary, safety facilities installation expenses, etc.), which can account for as low as 0.91% or as high as 3.18% of the construction cost based on the construction type and contract amounts. These are disbursed accordingly. KOSHA comprehensively checks and manages this expense system.

How has KOSHA’s Integrated Risk Management System improved process safety management in Korea’s chemical plants? In what ways does KOSHA assist chemical plant implementing this system?

From the 1980s to the early 1990s, many major accidents occurred at Korea’s chemical plants. To reduce these accidents, the Process Safety Management (PSM) System was introduced in 1995 and yielded good results.

Although 19 major accidents occurred in 1996 during PSM’s introductory stage, only three accidents occurred in 2006. In addition, the system has generated other benefits such as enhanced productivity, upgraded product quality and systematic management of process safety management data.

A quantitative measurement tool, which supplements PSM as an integrated risk management system, calculates the probability of occurrence and the estimated amount of damage based on information from hazardous facilities, estimates the degree of risk at a worksite, enables the necessary measures to prevent major industrial accidents and helps minimize damage in the event of an accident through periodic training.

After KOSHA benchmarked and modified the risk-based management system by combining the frequency of accident occurrences and amount of damage as adopted in advanced countries with low accident rates, the integrated risk management system was developed and disseminated to help domestic chemical plants use the Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) program.

KOSHA developed the “Integrated Risk Management System (IRMS)” and distributed CDs and user’s manuals to workplaces. Likewise, continued training and education are provided for IRMS experts and users. Programs, manuals and actual accident cases are also available on KOSHA’s website homepage.

KOSHA’s Occupational Safety Institute offers basic, general, advanced and correspondence courses for safety managers and supervisors, and its regional heads and offices also provide training courses for specific jurisdictions.

How have students responded to these courses, and what is the course agenda for 2007? Does KOSHA plan to offer courses in any new areas of study?

Since its inception in 1987, the Occupational Safety Training Institute has trained a total of 262,375 experts.

This shows that the institute has received a favorable response from workplaces and trainees. It is the only technical education institution in Korea that specializes in industrial accident prevention education through hands-on, experience-based training.

In 2007, a total of 65 courses for 27,260 trainees will be offered. These courses will mostly cover job aptitude enhancement courses for safety and health managers, the development of in-house inspectors for intra-worksite internal inspections of hazardous machines or equipment, the development of experts for voluntary safety and health management at workplaces and distance learning-based job aptitude enhancement for management supervisors.

Eight new courses will reflect the changing work environment. For example, as a transition from the “physical factor-only” analysis to learn accident prevention techniques, a new course on the psychological approach to unsafe behaviors and occupational stress has been added. A safety and health cost-benefit analysis course is also available.

A 2006 KOSHA customer satisfaction survey showed favorable response in the fields of intra-workplace education support activities and safety mobile bus services.

An external institution’s survey of those who graduated in less than six months revealed a satisfaction degree of 86 points. KOSHA’s own survey revealed a satisfaction degree of 87 points.

How does the Training Institute select instructors for its courses? What criteria must the instructors meet?

There are two groups of professors. One group consists of professors for education only as employed by the Occupational Safety Training Institute, and the other group consists of external professionals who deliver lectures.

Professors are recruited from among KOSHA employees who have extensive experience and superior knowledge of field jobs. At the end of the year, they are assessed in terms of trainees’ satisfaction with the courses and their own self-development efforts as evaluated according to the instructor’s performance evaluation system. Performance-oriented personnel management is then carried out based on these results.

External instructors should hold at least a bachelor’s degree and a certificate in the field of safety and health. They are selected from among worksite engineers, university professors, etc. In fact, some of the instructors who design the education program concurrently work as part-time professors.

Do you feel that participation in the Training Institute’s courses directly affects injury and accident rates within Korea’s workforce? Please explain.

The cause analysis of the 85,411 workers involved in industrial accidents in 2005 suggests that accidents attributed to technological reasons account for 29.1%, those due to lack of education, 51.4% and those due to work management, 19.6%. Since lack of education and work management are human factors, 71% of all accidents could have been prevented.

Safety training seeks to prevent accidents by letting workers acquire the necessary safety and health knowledge, develop a safe attitude and practice safety. Nonetheless, getting adults to change their established habits is very difficult.

Most of the course graduates hold executive-level positions and voluntarily participate. We also train them to educate workers at their site continuously. Therefore, this training program can contribute to the reduction of accidents, albeit indirectly.

As case studies in foreign countries show, safety culture and safety consciousness are very important. In particular, management’s concern for employee safety, continuous safety education and active cooperation can transform organizations into safe and pleasant workplaces.

KOSHA has introduced the safety and health management system to help safety culture take root in an organizational setting. It also encourages the establishment of voluntary safety and health systems by offering specialized safety and health education.

To strengthen its own efforts, dose KOSHA work with safety organization in other countries? Please elaborate.

As a Korean regional center for ILO-CIS, KOSHA supplies key international safety and health-related information to domestic institutions and workplaces and disseminates information on local safety and health trends to foreign countries, thus contributing to an international information exchange and to the enhancement of technology.

To expand technology exchange and cooperation between Korea and other Asian countries, KOSHA invites personnel in charge of safety and health to participate in its training programs and to make use of its technical advice as part of a joint cooperation project with the Asian-Pacific Regional Office of the International Labor Organization (ILO). However, it should be noted that these activities are still in the infancy stage.

KOSHA shares safety and health information with the Asian Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization (APOSHO), which counts 33 safety and health-related institutions from 24 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region as its members. We also deliver opening speeches or presentations at APOSHO annual meetings where we introduce industrial accident prevention policies, the latest technologies or actual best practices of workplace safety and health in Asian countries, thus promoting information exchange among countries.

The 18 th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work and the 24 th APOSHO annual meeting will be held in Korea simultaneously. Through these two events, the safety and health level worldwide is expected to advance even further.

We are also implementing the mutual business cooperation agreements we entered into with 28 institutions from 13 countries to remove redundancy in certification factors, streamline the certification process and reduce certification expenses by internationally standardizing certification standards and procedures for the S-mark safety certification of industrial and explosion prevention machinery and equipment.

In addition, KOSHA plans to hold international meetings and seminars with exchange experts to set up and operate an integrated certification system for developing an ongoing integrated Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHE&Q) model in cooperation with OECD.

Currently, we actively participate in the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS) and consolidate delivery methods for all information on chemical materials used worldwide.

The 18 th World Congress on Safety and Health at Work will be held from June 29-July 2, 2008 in Seoul, Korea. What role will KOSHA play in this event?

KOSHA will supervise the World Congress in cooperation with the ILO and the International Social Security Association (ISSA). A safety and health summit, regional meeting and symposia will be held during the Congress.

Prominent industrial safety and health leaders, high-ranking government officials, CEOs of corporations, employer and employee representatives and luminaries in academic circles will discuss international issues to find solutions and will make a safety and health declaration. We believe the conference will fuel considerable interest worldwide.

KOSHA expects the conference to serve as a venue for the exchange of industrial accident prevention technologies and information. Attendees will come together based on the premise “Safety and Health at Work: A Societal Responsibility” and will deliberate on:

  • Future safety and health strategies and programs
  • How changing working conditions impact workers
  • New challenges and opportunities in occupational safety and health
  • New knowledge and experiences related to safety and health management systems

KOSHA asks for constant support and active participation to enable people from all over the world to gather in Korea in 2008 and to make the World Congress a success.

KOSHA routinely conducts research on occupational accident prevention. What new accident prevention technologies is KOSHA currently exploring, and what is the status of this research?

The functions of KOSHA’s Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute are classified into research on safety and health-related policies, industrial safety and hygiene policies, epidemiological investigations, management of information on chemical materials and hazard evaluation. As of 2006, it has carried out 97 research projects.

When researching safety and health policies, the institute refers to systems and activities for industrial accident prevention in foreign countries and conducts policy-related studies to introduce a system that reflects Korean circumstances. It also analyzes the effectiveness of current regulatory systems in Korea.

These research projects yield practical results that minimize accidents and work-related diseases within industrial workplaces. The institute is conducting safety engineering research to arrive at systematic preventive measures following an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of frequently occurring accidents in the country such as falls, trips and electrocution.

The institute is also studying occupational disease prevention, MSDs in specific workers, management improvement plans, risk factors affecting MSDs, relationships between exposure to harmful factors and certain diseases, rates of workers hospitalized for pneumonia resulting from exposure to glass and silica acid dust and health problems in elderly workers. Biochemical studies are planned on the relationship between exposure to chemical substances and metabolic syndrome and on the outbreak mechanism of MSDs.

Finally, we will investigate and assess chemical materials produced and used in Korea. We will generate reliable information on their harmfulness or hazardousness for storage in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) database and provide this information to relevant workplaces.

Beginning in July 2008 in Korea, we will provide information on the classification and labeling of chemicals based on GHS. We will also benchmark the European Union’s (EU) Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) system in our research this year.

What is the status of occupational disease outbreaks in Korean workplaces? What kinds of projects does KOSHA implement to prevent them?

The number of patients contracting occupational diseases increased every year from 1,638 in 1990 to an all-time high in 2004. By the end of 2005, the figure stood at 7,495.

With respect to patients with major occupational diseases, those caused by exposure to harmful working environments such as chemical substances or high-level noises account for 33.7% (2,527); work-related cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases and MSDs constitute 66.3% (4,968). Therefore, the number of typical occupational diseases caused by exposure to chemical substances can be said to have decreased.

KOSHA’s projects for the prevention of occupational diseases include an MSDS database (with 50,802 types) to help workers recognize the harmfulness of chemicals, ensure their safe usage and facilitate their identification and management.

In 2008, KOSHA will introduce GHS, which can store up 2,500 records on the classification of chemical materials each year (14,000 types until 2012) and provide practical information on chemicals.

In addition, we are researching the distribution, usage and exposure effects of about 30 chemical materials, including normal hexane (n-hexane) and trichloroethylene (TCE), which caused occupational diseases. We are also in the process of developing and disseminating measure sheets.

Based on the survey results, we will develop and supply a Korean-style “Control Banding Program” that can be easily used at small-scale workplaces.

We provide tailored technical guidance such as Working Environment Measurements every six months, and we propose improvement measures from an engineering perspective to workplaces in which the measured exposure exceeds 50% of the permissible exposure limit. We also operate a quality assurance program for chemical sample analysis and a project that evaluates the reliability of measurements to improve accuracy and precision in measuring harmful work environments and in performing special medical checkups.

For the prevention of confined space accidents, we reinforce education on suffocation (accounts for 11% of all accidents) wherein rescue activities are performed by rescuers who wear no protective gear. We also assist local governments and public institutions in preparing and managing standard procedures for work with risks of suffocation due to hazardous gases or lack of oxygen. In addition, we purchase exhaust fans and equipment that measures hazardous gas concentration.

We also work to reduce the risk of occupational diseases attributed to the aging of the industrial population, an increase in work-related stress, lifestyle changes and lack of exercise.

For regions with small-scale workplaces, KOSHA provides private institutions that specialize in industrial health. Through financial support, nurses or industrial hygiene experts visit the regions 2-6 times per year per workplace to manage people’s health and to provide health guidance.

For small, apartment-type factories, we commission nearby specialist hospitals to conduct health management.

In government-established industrial zones, we have regional industrial health centers where we conduct health management and enhancement activities for workers.

MSDs such as back pain and cervical syndrome have increased sharply since 2001 because of increased repetitive work, improper working postures and handling of heavy materials. To prevent these diseases, we provide workplaces with in-depth inspections and evaluations of harmful factors affecting the musculoskeletal system in 11 types of work as well as guidance for improving work procedures based on ergonomics. We also create and disseminate prevention manuals that consider industrial characteristics.

What new projects has KOSHA implemented to prevent occupational diseases?

We have several programs for preventing occupational diseases. However, the latest occupational disease is acute poisoning due to chemical materials in small-scale workplaces or those that employ less than ten workers. To control this problem, we started the “Workplace Health Partner Program” this year.

Through cooperative relationships between workers, employers and KOSHA, this program seeks to solve at the root level the industrial health problems that have been managed within the framework of working environmental measurement, medical examinations, worksite inspections and technical support.

KOSHA partners with workers and employers to identify problems and propose relevant solutions. This is a customer-oriented support program designed to protect the health of workers at the worksite.

Employers or employees may request technical support from KOSHA. These activities are independent of government supervision, and no measure is taken for violations of relevant laws and regulations, although in-depth information is provided.

We expect this program to enable the implementation of an occupational disease prevention scheme among vulnerable sectors.


Kil-Sang Park has served as President of the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA) since 2005. Prior to this position, he was Vice Minister of Korea’s Ministry of Labor and held other offices within the Ministry.

Park holds a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Seoul National University, a master of arts degree in labor relations from the University of Illinois and a law degree from Hanyang University in Korea.