South Korea’s third-largest shipbuilder, Hanwha Ocean, has halted all work at its Okpo shipyard on Geoje Island following a fatal explosion on 12 January. 

A government investigation is in progress to determine the cause and violation of the country’s Serious Accident Act.  

The facility is expected to remain closed until the cause of the explosion, which killed one person, is determined. There is speculation that it could have been a gas explosion from a ruptured line. 

A Hanwha Ocean official said: “We reported the accident to the police and the Ministry of Employment and Labour immediately after the accident occurred, are doing our best to identify and resolve the exact cause of the accident, and are making every effort to prepare measures to prevent a recurrence,” local business newspaper Maeil reported

According to the Korean Times, Hanwha Ocean’s unionised workers have asked for the arrest of the executive who manages the company. 

“Since the Serious Accidents Punishment Act (SAPA) took effect, five fatal industrial accidents have happened at DSME, so we hoped that the shipyard would be safer after Hanwha’s acquisition seven months ago,” a union representative said at a press conference on Tuesday, it said

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By GlobalData

As per the SAPA that came into effect in January 2022, if a serious incident takes place at a company’s site due to the lack of safety measures, the CEO may face arrest on charges of negligence and insufficient safety precautions.  

In Hanwha Ocean’s regulatory filings, seen by local newspapers, the company claimed it reported the accident immediately to the police and the labour ministry. However, according to the workers, the management was negligent and was desperate to resume operations after the accident.