Samsung is embroiled in a long-running health controversy over the illnesses and deaths of some of its factory workers. The South Korean electronics giant has offered its “sincerest apology” over the matter.
In a public statement, CEO of Samsung, Kwon Oh-hyun mentioned that several workers have contracted leukemia and other difficult-to-treat diseases, with many eventually dying. Kwon also stated that Samsung will compensate the affected workers and their families. He admitted that the matter should have been resolved earlier.
This is not the first time Samsung has been in such a controversy. As reported by The Verge, back in 2011, a Seoul administrative court ruled that one of the worker, Hwang Yu-mi, who died from Leukemia in 2007 have contracted the disease after coming in contact with dangerous chemicals at a Samsung plant in Suwon. A documentary released last month highlighted 56 cases of leukemia and other rare blood cancers among Samsung workers, including Hwang.
Samsung was even accused of its attempt to use their influence in its home country to downplay any health concerns. They have allegedly pressured news publications agencies via text messages to cover up a movie known as “Another Promise”, which shows Hwang in it.
According to a group called Supporters for the Health And Rights of People in the Semiconductor Industry (SHARPS), thousands of chemicals that are used for the manufacturing of chips are not disclosed to the workers. Moreover, the organization alleged that cleanrooms in the factories don’t filter toxic gases and are designed to protect the wafers rather than the workers, and workers are also often forced to turn off recently installed protective devices to keep up with the production rate.
Just last month, Bloomberg Businessweek had used the Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone launch to tell the story of Hwang, together with her colleague Lee Suk-yeong. Both worked alongside each other in Suwon and have died from leukemia.