Consumer electronics major Samsung on Monday vowed to take requisite precautions to prevent future disasters at its facilities which may result in life-threatening or debilitating illnesses like cancer. In a case dating back almost a decade, Samsung stands accused of negligence at its semiconductor chipset and display panel factories in South Korea, resulting in radiation exposure for numerous workers, over 200 of whom contracted incurable forms of cancer and other deadly, terminal diseases over the years. After years of unseemly haggling over culpability and resultant compensations, Samsung is finally seemingly righting a wrong, according to reports in the Korean media.
After the company’s CEO Mr. Kwon Oh-hyun accepted limited culpability and issued an unconditional apology last year to the affected employees and their families, the Suwon, South Korea-based company has reportedly agreed to put aside a compensation fund of 100 billion won ($85 million) to be used for the compensation of stricken employees and towards efforts aimed at preventing future disasters arising out of gross negligence, thereby increasing worker safety standards. The action from Samsung comes after several rounds of negotiations involving lawyers on both sides, human rights activists, workers’ unions, the families of the stricken and the deceased, third-party experts and Samsung management.
Even after the incident was made public several years ago, the company’s various facilities have still continued to see its fair share of accidents over the past few years, including two separate incidents of toxic gas-leaks, which saw deaths of employees and contractors. In 2014, a carbon dioxide gas leak resulted in the tragic death of a 52-year old man working at a Samsung facility in Southern Seoul, whereas a year earlier, in 2013, a hydrofluoric acid leak at Samsung Semiconductor’s main chip factory in the city of Hwaseong, killed a contractual worker called in to repair a leakage of the said gas.
An activist group called Sharps, which claims to represent many of the afflicted employees, said that around 70 of the 200 affected workers have already died from their ailments, which range from lymphoma to leukemia and other such potentially fatal illnesses. The organization however refused to comment on the news of Samsung’s setting up of the aforementioned fund.