Samsung Electronics has denied allegations that it did not inform its workers about the chemicals they were exposed to at its factories. The South Korean electronics giant said the safety of its workers was their "number one priority".
A recent Associated Press report had alleged that South Korean authorities had on the request of Samsung repeatedly failed to inform workers and their families about the chemicals they were exposed to at its computer chip and liquid crystal display factories. The report had cited labour ministry official Goo Ja-hwan as saying that the government usually accepts requests from companies to keep certain details confidential. However, he added that the government could not evaluate whether the details were real trade secrets or not.
With regards to the side effects of the chemicals on employees, the report alleged that there were about 200 workers who had contracted serious diseases including leukemia, lupus, lymphoma and multiple sclerosis. It was also said that 76 of its employees had died.
The victims need the information about the chemicals to qualify for compensation from the government. While in some cases employees have received compensation, there are many that have not as authorities have demanded more details about the chemicals that caused the illnesses and deaths of the workers.
The victims further alleged that Samsung was not giving them the information under the justification of trade secrets.
A Samsung statement cited by BBC read, "[the allegation that Samsung had] intentionally blocked workers from accessing chemical information pertaining to workplace health and safety, or illegally prevented the disclosure of such information, is not true."
While the law of the Asian country does not require companies to disclose information that is deemed a trade secret, they are required to disclose information about toxic substances contained in a company's products.