Fatal carbon dioxide leak reported at Samsung plant

September 5, 2018 | 11:00

Tags: #accident #asphyxiation #electronics #fab #factor #giheung #korea #plant #production #semiconductor #south-korea

Companies: #samsung

Local media has reported an accident at the Samsung Electronics production facility in Giheung, South Korea, in which one worker has died while two others have been hospitalised.

Electronics factories are not always healthy places to be. While safety should always be a primary concern, accidents happen and modern electronics require some fairly worrying chemicals, voltages, and radiation to produce. Gas leaks, in particular, can be fatal - and sadly that appears to have been the case for a leak at Samsung Electronics' Giheung facility late yesterday.

According to reports from local media outlets including the Korea Times, one worker - identified only by the surname Lee - has died and two others have been hospitalised following a leak of carbon dioxide (CO₂). The workers are reported to have been from an outside contractor rather than Samsung itself, while the source of the leak has been reported as fire-fighting equipment stored in the facility's basement rather than any part of the production line itself.

Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of the respiration process, but while it is normally considered an inert gas, at atmospheric concentrations above just five percent it becomes biologically toxic. Unlike asphyxiation by an inert gas like nitrogen or argon, carbon dioxide asphyxiation typically produces a panicked fight-or-flight reflex and the gasping associated with a lack of breath - but with unconsciousness occurring in as little as 40 seconds when oxygen levels have been displaced to below five percent, these warning signs can come too late to help.

The last fatal accident associated with a CO₂ leak at a Samsung facility occurred in 2014. The company has expressed regret to local media and has indicated an investigation into the incident is underway, but has not yet issued a formal statement to global press on the matter.

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