SEOUL, South Korea (Aug. 21, 2009)—Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. has appealed a court decision in which the company and its executives were found guilty of causing deaths at two of its South Korean factories by violating industrial safety and health law.
The appeal was filed with the District Court in Daejeon, South Korea.
The case dates back to 2006 and 2007, when seven workers at Hankook plants in Daejeon and Geumsan died over a short period of time. A total of 14 workers died over a 17-month span. In the court ruling, two Hankook managers received suspended prison sentences and were fined, with fines also levied against the company and other executives.
In a statement, Hankook said the ruling in a South Korean provincial court that the company and certain executives violated the safety and health law stemmed from a Department of Labor inspection of Hankook workplaces between Oct. 22 and Dec. 5, 2007.
Hankook said it had followed all recommended measures by the DOL to improve working conditions “despite the fact that the epidemiological study by the Industrial Disease Research Center from the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency found no conclusive link between the chronic onset of cardiovascular disease and the working environment at Hankook Tire's two plants and R&D center in Korea.”
The firm added that its facilities and employee management practices comply with all South Korean government regulations and are benchmarked against international best practice. It said it also is boosting its employee medical screening program and looking to further improve the working environment at its plants.