Occupational health

Country and Regional Issues

A healthy workplace programme for railroad transportation business in the metropolitan area - a good practice example

Occupational Health Department, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency (KOSHA); a WHO Collaborating Centre for Occupational Health Mr. Wook Kim K.C.P.E., Senior Manager, Occupational Health Team, Gyungnam Area Office, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency(KOSHA).


The railroad transportation system in the metropolitan area is an essential infrastructure business, providing convenient transportation means to people. However, threats to workers include irregular life patterns by shift work, polluted air in underground space, and job stress from train accidents and complaints by passengers, as well as dangers of many safety accidents including slips, trips and falls.

The Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (SMRT) operates 4 lines of subway in Seoul, the capital city of the Republic of Korea. It was established in 1994 and now the corporation operates a total of 148 stations and 6 train depots, serving approximately 2.3 million passengers daily with a total reach of almost 152km. The total number of staff is about 6,200 and SMRT is recognized as the world’s fourth largest metropolitan subway corporation. KOSHA supports the implementation of measures to protect and promote workers' health including dissemination of advanced prevention techniques, strengthening education for promoting safety and health culture, and ensuring the support and awareness of KOSHA's and SMRT's management.

In April 2009, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between SMRT and KOSHA to strengthen collaboration between the two organizations in the following areas:

  • Physical check-up and prescribed customized exercise for approximately 500 workers.
  • Assessment of the risk factors of cerebro-cardiovascular disease of individuals.
  • Conducted anti-smoking and sobriety campaigns, job stress management, and etc.
  • Conducted ergonomic investigation and consultations to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), especially in manual material handling and awkward postures.
  • Providing information of chemicals being used for the maintenance of the trains
  • Examination of the local ventilation system.
  • Providing CPR training courses to stationmasters to prepare for emergencies.
  • SMRT implements various actions to promote workers’ health. It provides job stress management education course for engine drivers and performs self safety inspection on workplaces, and encourages workers to do stretching exercise using self-developed movie clips.

According to the MOU between SMRT and KOSHA, projected plans and actions continue without any problems.


SMRT has been successful and won the first prize at the “Public Contest for the Good Practices in Occupational Health in 2009” which was co-organized by the Ministry of Employment and Labour and KOSHA.

Workers’ health and safety are now a priority in the subway management system and SMRT introduced the theme: “Healthy Subway, Happy Subway” through implementing good practices with the cooperation of KOSHA.