Court rules Hankook Tire partially responsible for worker’s cancer death

A South Korean court has ordered Hankook Tire to compensate the family of a former worker who died of lung cancer in 2015. According to an article published by The Korea Herald last Friday, the Seoul Central District Court ruled that the tyre maker was “partially responsible for the death of a factory worker surnamed Ahn who died of lung cancer caused by toxic chemicals.”

The court decided that Hankook Tire should compensate the plaintiffs in the case – the worker’s wife and children – a total of KRW 128 million (£86,000). The Korea Herald writes that the family sued Hankook Tire for “violating its duty to protect workers,” and have called upon the company to improve its working environment in order to prevent further accidents.

The newspaper published an excerpt from the verdict, which states: “Hankook Tire distributed masks and installed exhaust and cooling systems as it was aware of the correlation between tire production and carcinogenesis. But research results show that the safety systems did not work properly.” The verdict added, the publication noted, that “it could be said that exposure to vapor made while steaming rubber in the process of tyre production had caused lung cancer if there are no other medical explanations for the illness.”

While the Korea Herald writes that “there had been speculations that the continued deaths of factory workers at Hankook Tire since 1998 were due to a lack of safety devices to filter out toxic chemicals at the factory,” the court’s ruling is the first that holds Hankook Tire responsible for the death of a factory worker.

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