3 Worker Die of Suffocation at SK Hynix Plant

luvsmiling, May 1, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

Three workers died from suffocation while working in a ventilation duct at the plant construction site of memory chip maker SK hynix Inc. southeast of Seoul, firefighters said Thursday.  The accident took place around 12:25 p.m. at a construction site of the new factory in Icheon, about 80 kilometers from Seoul.

They were inspecting a new, 5-square-meter exhaust duct to check on the insulation. The vent pipe is used to extract hazardous gas from the chip-making process, burn it with liquid nitrogen gas (LNG) and discharge it.

Four other workers, who attempted to rescue the three, also received treatment after suffering headaches, the firefighters added. The police said later that the victims died from inhaling nitrogen gas that had remained inside the duct. They apparently wore safety helmets but weren't equipped with a gas mask, according to the police.

They will investigate whether the company had properly instructed workers to check the air density before they let them go inside the duct. Kim Joon-ho, the head of management at SK hynix held a press briefing later in the day and expressed apology for the loss.

"We offer our sincere apology for the loss of the three subcontractors. It is extremely painful and we're sorry that a tragedy like this has happened when we're making every effort to keep the place safe."    SK hynix said it will halt the construction until the site is cleared of potential safety problems.

This is the third time in less than 10 months that a gas leak led to casualties at a SK hynix chip plant. It was only in March that a gas leak occurred at the same plant, injuring 13 workers. Two other workers were taken to a hospital after they were exposed to silicon dioxide at its dynamic random access memory (DRAM) facility in July last year.

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