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Samsung accused of exposing employees to toxins, resulting in illnesses

Working in computer chip and display factories can be a dangerous profession, one that Samsung reportedly made more dangerous by withholding information about chemicals its employees were exposed to, reports the Associated Press.

According to an unnamed worker safety group, there are over 200 documented cases of former Samsung semiconductor and LCD workers contracting serious illnesses, which include the likes of leukemia, lupus, lymphoma, and multiple sclerosis. Out of those 200, 76 have died, with most of the dead ranging from 20 to 30 years of age.

In one case, a 22-year-old Samsung factory worker died of leukemia, with her dad alleging he was offered 1 billion won ($864,000) to keep quiet about the circumstances of her death. Instead, he went on to launch a movement that calls for independent inspections of Samsung factories. In another case, a former Samsung chip worker is unable to hold a regular job because she was diagnosed with lupus. A third case talks about how a former Samsung display worker lost her eyesight after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

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What made the documented cases worse is South Korea’s reluctance to give workers compensation for ailments they acquire at work. That reluctance turns into a near impossibility if the South Korean government does not receive any information regarding employees’ exposure to toxins, which is where the accusation that Samsung withholds such information comes in.

As for why Samsung is reportedly doing this, the company cited the need to protect its trade secrets, according to a separate AP report. It also does not hurt that the South Korean government does not penalize companies for withholding information needed “to protect the lives, physical safety, and health” of people on the basis of holding on to their trade secrets, even though the firms are technically prohibited from doing so.

Digital Trends reached out to Samsung for comment on the matter and will update accordingly.