Land Ministry eyes zero-tolerance rules for construction negligence

In the wake of the collapse of a HDC Hyundai Development apartment building under construction in Gwangju in January, the government is pushing for legilation that would allow it to hand out stronger penalties against companies responsible for poor construction.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Monday revealed plans for a “one-strike, you’re out” policy that would allow authorities to rescind the company’s construction license if three or more people die as a result of negligent construction. The same punishment would apply in case of five workplace fatalities or more, the ministry said.

The policy would prohibit the companies from registering for a new construction license for the next five years, according to the ministry.

The company’s construction license could also be revoked if it is found to have two cases of poor construction in less than five years. In such cases, the company will not be able to apply for a construction license in the next three years.

Under existing regulations, companies that were found accountable for poor construction have only faced suspension orders lasting between two to eight months. The ministry said the planned level of punishment would impose a business suspension of four to 12 months if the company is blamed for poor construction, regardless of causalities.

“In order to prevent accidents similar to the collapse of the (Gwangju apartment), an accident that cannot be understood in common sense, we will strictly respond to poor construction with zero tolerance,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the ministry requested the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the municipal authority in charge of HDC, to impose the most severe penalty against the real estate developer for the Gwangju accident that killed six people. The highest level of punishment is the cancellation of a construction license or a one-year business suspension.

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