The Korea Herald


Seoul proposes safety measures to prevent poor construction

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : Nov. 7, 2023 - 15:48

    • Link copied

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon presents a proposal on improving construction safety during a press briefing at Seoul City Hall on Tuesday. (Yonhap) Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon presents a proposal on improving construction safety during a press briefing at Seoul City Hall on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Tuesday unveiled a set of safety measures designed to prevent substandard construction practices in both the public and private sectors.

Aimed at stamping out poor construction practices, the city government's proposal came after an underground parking lot collapsed at an apartment complex construction site in northern Incheon’s Geomdan New Town in April, and after a pedestrian overpass in Yeongdeungpo-gu, western Seoul, collapsed in January.

“The aim is to create a safer Seoul by proposing safety measures that can run for the long term, instead of implementing safety measures that can alleviate a dangerous situation only when accidents related to poor construction occurs,” Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said, announcing the plan, dubbed "Seoul Construction Innovation Measures" at a press conference.

Under the newly proposed measures, construction work involving rebars in concrete -- steel bars that provide reinforcement in concrete structures -- must be performed by its prime contractor rather than its subcontractors.

Construction supervision will be conducted not just by the construction companies but also by external structural engineers and construction engineers who specialize in structural safety.

As for the public construction sector, the city government plans to impose sanctions against contractors that have a poor construction safety track record. In the event of an accident caused by poor construction, the contractor will be obliged to immediately reconstruct the site completely. The city government plans to revise a section on mandatory reconstruction to the “Special Conditions of Seoul Construction Contract” by the first half of 2024.

Penalties include not allowing constructors to bid for public construction works for two years, and restricting the companies from participating in large-scale construction bids such as turnkey projects ordered by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The city government also plans to strictly manage and supervise the private construction sector and will crack down on issues related to illegal subcontractors. A crackdown on illegal subcontracting, which was only enforced in the public construction sector, will also be expanded to private construction sectors.

Additionally, in order to cultivate skillful workers, the city government will also support training systems where workers will be able to upgrade their skill levels after receiving training. Seoul will also propose to the government to introduce a differential labor wage system, where a worker will receive pay depending on their skill level.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government also plans to require overseas workers to familiarize themselves with blueprint drawings and how they are laid out in Korea before they are hired for projects. These workers will also be required to take functional tests such as rebar assembly and receive training regarding the construction project’s quality and safety through professional interpreters.

The process of hiring supervisors and all construction phases in the private construction sector will be managed and overseen by the city government.

“We hope to break the cycle of poor construction through these comprehensive measures targeting the construction sectors,” Oh said.

“Through these comprehensive measures, the city government hopes to create fundamental changes to our construction techniques and industries to create a safer city for everyone.”