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Surveillance camera footage of the factory fire that killed more than 20 people sparks public outrage

Surveillance camera footage of the factory fire that killed more than 20 people sparks public outrage

The conversation about work safety has begun.

On June 24, a massive fire broke out at a battery factory in Hwaseong, South Korea. Despite a level 2 response, with more than 145 firefighters and 50 fire engines dispatched to battle the blaze, more than 20 bodies were recovered from the scene, including the 23 workers who had been reported missing earlier.

Download - 2024-06-28T103103.622
| Yonhap

The tragic incident left the entire country shaken after the initial reports. But recently released CCTV footage of the fire has sparked deep discussions about the safety of workers at the factory and whether this tragedy could have been avoided.

Download - 2024-06-28T103117.673
| Yonhap

Security footage from the factory showed that the fire started with a small explosion from a pile of batteries stacked at knee-high. There is no clear indication as to whether any external circumstances caused the explosion. However, one of the employees noticed smoke and quickly retreated. Two employees began removing the smoking battery stack, to prevent the fire from spreading to other batteries. But in general, the staff on the floor did not seem to realize the seriousness of the situation when they resumed work.

A few seconds after the smoke started, a large flame ignited from the battery stack, causing a secondary explosion. The two employees who were moving the device panicked and retreated. Five seconds later, there was a new explosion, prompting another employee to reach for a fire extinguisher. Unfortunately, this powder extinguisher seemed unsuitable for a lithium flame, as it did nothing to reduce the flames.

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As the employee continued to use the extinguisher, another explosion occurred, and workers began evacuating the extinguisher at this point. Soon after, there were 5-6 successive explosions with bright flashes as the screen filled with thick smoke. About 4 hours and 40 minutes later, 21 employees working on that floor were found dead in the corner room opposite the initial ignition point.

The footage has left netizens wondering whether the workers have received adequate training to deal with such emergencies. Many felt that if they had known the proper safety measures to take, this number of deaths could have been avoided altogether.

Screenshot 2024-06-28 095313
| Thiko
  • “The company should have provided regular training for situations like this.”
  • “I saw on the news yesterday that many of the workers were temporary employees who had not worked there for a long time and were not familiar with the layout of the building, which contributed to the tragedy. The exit was located close to the fire, and there was no exit on the opposite side, so they were trapped and could not get out.” “Escape.”
  • “Oh no, they didn’t have enough safety training…”
  • “This is so annoying…”
  • “Sigh… If only they were evacuated immediately.”

This incident has put Aricel under scrutiny as the majority of its workforce consists of foreign workers holding Korean F-4 visas and H-2 work and visit visas, despite not meeting the necessary standards to employ such workers. Aricel CEO Park Sun-kwan denied accusations of illegally hiring foreign workers, noting that most of them were hired through a human resources agency as subcontracted day laborers. He also alleged that the agency was providing instructions to the workers, in an attempt to evade the responsibility of providing safety-related vocational training to the workers.

Aricel’s percentage of foreign workers indicates that it is a company that relies heavily on foreign workers. There are strong suspicions that this is a case of illegal recruitment of foreign workers with the aim of obtaining cheap labor without taking proper safety measures.

— Professor Kim Sung-hee, Korea University Graduate School of Labor Studies

source: Theco And Hankyoreh

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