In what has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ ruling, authorities in South Korea have recognised malignant lymphoma (non-Hodgkin lymphoma) as an occupational disease.
The Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL) decision on 1 June 2016 approved workers’ compensation to Park Hyo-soon, a former Samsung Electronics Co Ltd employee who died of the blood disorder four years ago.
Her family were supported throughout the lengthy adjudication process by victims’ campaign and advocacy organisation SHARPS. The group says it has identified around 200 Samsung workers who developed the blood condition.
In 2002, Park Hyo-soon got a job as chip-line operator at Samsung, a few months before graduating high school. She was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma in 2010, about four years after she quit her job at Samsung. She died in 2012, aged just 28.
In a statement, SHARPS said: “Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL) on 1 June decided to grant workers’ compensation to the late Park Hyo-soon, aged 28 years, citing that non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or malignant lymphoma, constitutes an occupational disease as she could have developed it as a result of exposure to benzene or other materials.”
It added: “KCOMWEL’s decision is significant because for the first time it declared malignant lymphoma an occupational disease.”