SEOUL, South Korea (Nov. 15, 2007) — Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. has confirmed that a number of its Korean employees have died in recent months from unnatural causes.
"Hankook Tire has been investigating, and continues to investigate, a number of deaths that have occurred to employees from its two plants and R&D center in Korea," the company said. "Causes of these regrettable deaths are suspected to include cardiovascular diseases and cancer."
The company said rumors that the deaths were linked to chemicals used in the factories were unfounded. Nevertheless, the company has set up a joint task force team working with representatives of the union and government organizations.
"In parallel," the statement said, "the Industrial Disease Research Center from the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency has also been working on an epidemiological study."
Hankook said its "facilities and employee management practices are in full compliance with all Korean government regulations and are benchmarked against international best practice."
The company said if the official studies found any problems with its working practices or environment, then it "will implement measures to mitigate conditions that might adversely affect employees´ health and safety."
Hankook´s statement follows a report in the Korea Times that 14 workers at Hankook Tire factories had died unexpectedly from May 2006 to October 2007.