Large Korean companies are busy as the Severe Disaster Punishment Act, which aims to significantly strengthen employers’ obligations for safety and health measures, takes effect in earnest next year. The Severe Disaster Penalty Act allows employers to be sentenced to more than one year in prison or fined up to 1 billion won if more than one worker is determined to have died in an industrial accident and safety measures at the workplace are insufficient. Corporations can also be fined up to 5 billion won and compensated for punitive damages up to five times. It is set to take effect on January 27 next year.
For safety management in dangerous workplaces, AI solutions for safety management and supervision are spreading to detect risk factors occurring in industrial sites and give alarms in advance using deep learning-based computer vision technology. There is a demand for such solutions mainly in manufacturing facilities, construction sites, and ports dealing with dangerous heavy equipment. It is a technology that detects in real time whether an operator properly wears safety equipment such as safety helmets and safety shoes, and whether there are any workers who fall or act abnormally with on-site images taken through CC (closed circuit) TVs, drones, and wearable cameras. POSCO ICT of POSCO Group, which most of its affiliates own industrial sites such as steel, energy, and construction, has launched “Vision AI,” a platform for face recognition access management and image recognition and analysis, and is being used at construction and manufacturing sites.
There are also active R&D movements to put robots in place of humans for dangerous tasks.
Samsung C&T’s construction division recently announced that it has developed and applied a technology that can replace “fireproofing” work for the first time in Korea. The refractory work robot developed by Samsung C&T has a robot arm for spraying refractory materials at the top of the complaint workbench, and a raw material mixer and storage facility at the bottom. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power has developed a prototype of the intelligent robot “Prime,” which can conduct internal inspections of seawater pipes, a high-risk enclosed space work. In addition, POSCO succeeded in developing the world’s first “Smart Safety Ball.” According to the company, workers had to use long tubes or measure them directly with detectors to measure harmful gases in advance when working in existing enclosed spaces. The Smart Safety Ball is similar in size to a tennis ball with a diameter of 60mm and a weight of 100g, and gas concentration can be measured in real time only by throwing it into the work space.
Companies are shifting their safety management paradigm by using digital technology to focus on prevention in advance rather than follow-up to safety accidents.