[KILSH] A Research List (2016~2020)

Here is a list of our studies from the last 5 years.
We will translate the abstract and the main contents in turn.



Research Year



A Study on the Establishment of Support System for Health Examination of Intermittent Workers in the Film Industry


Development of Guidelines for Occupational Safety and Health of Broadcast Workers


Survey on Job Stress and Mental Health Status of Finance and Office Workers


A Study on Establishment of Proper Labor Intensity Standards for Apartment Building Workers


Development of Platform of Labor Safety and Health for Youth workers


Assessment of Labor Intensity of Electrical Distribution Workers in Korea Construction Workers' Union Electric Subcommittee


Risk Assessment of 'Korea Piston Ring Inc.'


Guide for Risk Assessment of Musculoskeletal Disorders


Assessment of Labor Intensity of Carpenters in Korea Construction Workers' Union II


Investigation of Hazardous Environment of Labs in Vocational High Schools in Seoul


Suicide from overwork in the Neoliberal Age: A Comparative Case Study


Guide for Youth Labor Safety and Health


Assessment of Labor Intensity of Carpenters in Korea Construction Workers' Union I


A Study on the Reduction of Working Hours and the Creation of Decent Jobs by Improving Shift System in the Public Transportation Industry


Risk Assessment of Musculoskeletal Disorders in 'Doowon Precision Industry'


Risk Assessment in 'Kospa Corporation'


Risk Assessment of Musculoskeletal Disorders in 'Kospa Corporation'


Health Status and Occupational Disease Prevention of Taxi Workers


The Policy Improvement to Prevent Overwork-related Health Disorders (Karosi)


For Metal Workers, “How to Exercise the Rights to Refuse Work”


Survey on Work Environment of Vocational High School's Lab


Job Stress Assessment of 'Hyundai Securities' Workers


Assessment of Labor Intensity of 'GM Korea' Workers


Risk Assessment of Working Environment and Musculoskeletal Disorders in 'Korea Piston Ring Inc.'

[Research Abstract] Research on the work intensity assessment of power distribution workers (2019)

Research on the work intensity assessment of power distribution workers of the Electricity Branch Committee of the Korean Construction Workers Union

by the Korea Institute of Labor Safety and Health and the Korean Construction Workers Union
Edited by KILSH




1. Backgrounds and the method of the research

This research aims to analyze factors that increase the work intensity of power distribution workers and threatens workers’ health by examining work intensity and health conditions of workers by conducting surveys, interviews, field research and biomarkers monitoring in workers.  


2. Surveys

2,558 people responded to the survey and 2,189 survey answers were analyzed. The majority were forty to fifties, middle aged, and all respondents were male. Live-line workers took the majority.


75% answered that they worked for 8 hours per day, but there is a possibility that they excluded the time to prepare, move and arrange for work. The number of the people answered that they did not have time to rest except lunch time during working hours. 


The rate of power distribution workers who are exposed to physical risk factors during the whole working time or almost all working time was 9 to 20 times higher compared to ordinary workers. The rate of power distribution workers who are exposed to ergonomic risk factors during the whole working time or almost all working time was 1.8 to 7 times higher than ordinary workers. The difference was exposure to low temperature and working on heavy loads.


68.6% respondents answered that they often or always physically get tired, and 65.3% answered that they often or always mentally get tired. It was found out that respondents want a reduction of work intensity/workload by 33% of their current workload. It was the live-line workers who suffered from the work intensity the most. 


According to the NIOSH standards, workers with symptoms who were grouped in the NIOSH standards 1 were 1,670(76.3%), those who are grouped in the NIOSH standards 2 were 1,489(68.0%), and those who are grouped in the NIOSH standards 3 were 691(31.6%). It is much worse compared to construction workers who were researched so far. One third of the respondents are included in the NIOSH standards 3 who need treatments, which means immediate intervention is needed. 


45.9% responded that they at least had one injury or got injured once. For body parts, hands/fingers/wrists, arms/elbows, and shoulders were in high rank. 24.6% said that they had to rest for longer than 4 days due to industrial injuries. Only 57.1% were cured from industrial injury compensation and private compensation by the company owner for the industrial injuries (not compensated from the national industrial injury insurance). Only one out of three who answered that they did not pay for their medical fee but it was paid by the industrial injury compensation. Most common injuries were bumping, falling down, being hit by objects.  


46.5% answered they worked even when they were sick, and 34.5% said they could not call in sick for the last year especially live-line workers and machine drivers often had to work even when they were sick. It is related to the companies having a lack of workforce. 


Power distribution workers are aware that their jobs are 5 times more dangerous than ordinary people’s, and they recognize that they have negative effects from work that are 1.9 times higher, too. Although they are aware of risks, they tend to think that an unsafe work environment can have a serious impact on health. 


Compared to regular workers, daily workers have lower access to safety and health related information or medical check-up, so there is a need for the labor union to pay more attention to their safety. Respondents tend to think that the indirect live-line technique was the result of a bureaucratic mistake. It shows that more aggressive communication and demand for resolution need to be made against KEPCO(Korea Electric Power Corporation). The resolutions to ease the work intensity are recruiting more workers, ensuring employment security and extending break time. 


3. Interviews


Work intensity of power distribution workers increases largely by structural and cultural reasons of the power distribution industry. The relationship between KEPCO, subcontractor and subcontractor workers interferes with employment security among power distribution workers. This puts pressure on power distribution workers to endure intense work in order to secure workers’ job security and wages. Although the probability of accidents and occupational disease cases is highly correlated, the KEPCO, the prime contractor shifts the responsibility onto private subcontractors and power distribution workers. Due to such problems, safety and health management systems are not in place so the employees take sole responsibility of all kinds of industrial injuries. 


This research suggests structural and cultural factors of the power distribution industry have to be changed for this matter. Debates from various aspects on the resolutions are needed, and  the labor union needs to share the situation and discuss the resolutions with union members. Based on such discussion, the labor union can arrange adjustments in terms of reducing work intensity.

4. Field research


Four days field research was conducted. Focusing on live-line workers, observation on dead-line workers and assistants was made, too. All of them worked standing for all day without a break. A number of live-line workers work on a number of electric poles consecutively by the protocol. Therefore, workers including dead-line workers and assistants also worked endlessly. The situation that workers have to keep a rapid work pace increases the risk of accidents. Furthermore, there is no time and space to rest. While observing them, it is found out that time to rest was only around one hour for lunch. Actual break time was around thirty minutes except for lunch, and they did not even have a space to ease their tiredness.


This causes the risk of falls and electric shock accidents and when a  lot of work done by a lot of people simultaneously increases the risk of accidents. While the live-line working that is processed with live electricity is done, the tension of accidents cannot be reduced. The risk of electricity shock accidents always exists when it is live-line working condition. Even on a low tension cable there is a risk of electricity shock accidents. 


Working at high, loading on upper limbs and carrying heavy loads are all harmful working posture that can cause musculoskeletal disorders. Live-line workers, dead-line workers and assistants work standing for the whole day,  and handle various heavy loads such as cables and heavy tools. Workers continue to make repetitive movements such as bending back, turning or twisting their hands, shoulders and necks, so there are quite a number of those who are suffering. Seeking proper resolutions is urgent to lower the work intensity. 


Since they work outside, weather affects their work a lot. So, they are more exposed to the ultraviolet related illness, health problems from heat, accident risks from cold weather and musculoskeletal loads.


The Smart stick, the most controversial tool, is another factor that increases work intensity of power distribution workers as the workers are required to use excessive force. It is difficult to determine its effectiveness and safety in the context of rapid work pace. Therefore, cooperation between workers and the labor union need to work together to find ways to minimize the risk of electric shocks such as development of safe tools and protocol. In turn, this should bring the positive impact on the use of the Smart Stick.


In addition, the current safety management system does not meet its purpose and efficiency because the required safety meetings have  been little more than a formality. 


5. Biomarker monitoring


It is known that ambulatory blood pressure for 24 hours is an indicator for prevalence rate and mortality rate related to cerebro cardiovascular illness. Also, nocturnal blood pressure (high blood pressure at night) also accounts as an important indicator for mortality rate related to cerebro cardiovascular illness.10 out of 14 participants of this research had undiagnosed hypertension, and 9 of whose ambulatory blood pressure appear to have undiagnosed nocturnal hypertension. Most likely, a lot of power distribution workers are not aware of their own disease, meaning that workers’ regular health check up has to be intensified.


Nocturnal hypertension can imply that they are experiencing chronic stress. It is well known that some people whose blood pressure does not drop at night, it is highly probable that they might be experiencing stroke or target organ damage, and cardiovascular complications increase. 7 out of 14 participants of this research were found as those whose blood pressure at night does not drop. It was found out that a lot of power distribution workers who think they are healthy are included in the high  risk group of cerebro cardiovascular illness.


This monitoring was based on the ambulatory blood pressure monitoring of one time for 24 hours. There is a limit that it was monitored only for working days not on days off. Also, it is not accurate if that monitoring was not done long enough during working hours. We expect that similar research can be done later, and this research can be a reference for cerebro cardiovascular illness prevention among power distribution workers. 


6. Suggestion


This work intensity from the assessment is shown as serious musculoskeletal symptom prevalence of union members. Preventions on  musculoskeletal disorder need to be endorsed including the right to be cured, to rest, and basic sanitation rights. Companies have to stop unilateral drive to transfer to indirect live-line technique that is regarded as one of the factors that increase recent work intensity. Also, companies should make the system for safety and health management that can help workers.


As pointed out above, approval fight for industrial injury cases of musculoskeletal disorder, gaining for rights to be cured, prevention activities of musculoskeletal disorder, gaining for rest and appropriate work intensity, building safety and health system are very urgent, and serious action of the labor union is necessary. By strengthening workers’ safety and health movement, the labor union has to find ways to solve the causes that increase work intensity such as recruiting more workers or employment security.