Major Industrial Accidents in Korea: The Characteristics and Implication of Statistics 1996–2011


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This article describes characteristics of major industrial accidents that occurred in the Republic of Korea from 1996 to 2011. The cases of major industrial accidents have been collected since 1996 after promulgation of process safety management (PSM) regulations. Accident analysis can help to evaluate current compliance to PSM regulations and can help to find effective ways to decrease the number of major industrial accidents that occur. The author analyzed the accident reports. Among 147 cases analyzed, 50% were explosions, 36% were fires, 13% were chemical releases, and 2% were asphyxiations. The most common cause of accidents is “the violation or failure of safety work permit (hot work)” which was 36% of all accidents. 27% of accidents happened during operation. The most common equipment involved accidents where tanks (17%), pipelines (16%), and reactors (15%). The analysis indicates that (i) the number of major industrial accidents has decreased with the introduction of PSM regulations and its enforcement systems and (ii) human failure is a major issue that needs to be addressed. These findings may help to develop a national strategy for PSM in Korea as well as other countries. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog 32: 90–95, 2013