hitachi staff cutting steel

It has emerged that Japanese company Kobe Steel has been falsifying data around the strength of its metal products – and has been doing so for up to a decade.

The global company recently announced that the thickness of just over 3500 tonnes of steel “had been fabricated”, along with the durability of its aluminum, and copper products. While the company have stated that there: “shouldn’t be a problem with safety”, the scandal has caused concern among both consumers and manufacturers.

So, at Gibson & Associates, we’re asking the questions on everyone’s minds: Are we at risk? What does this mean for Irish consumers? Why has this happened? And who is truly responsible for this outrage?

What’s the Risk to Consumers?

Kobe Steel provides metal materials for major car, train and aeroplane manufacturers, so it’s understandable that consumer safety is a major concern. Latest reports have suggested that as many as 500 companies may have used falsely certified Kobe steel, including Boeing and Airbus, along with several global car manufacturers.

However, Kobe Steel and the manufacturers who use their materials have insisted that there’s been no risk to consumer safety. Boeing even suggested that it does not consider the shocking revelations as a safety issue, but stated that it may raise compensation costs with Kobe Steel further down the line.

Why did this happen?

While it seems for now that there’s been minimal risk to human safety, it’s still very clear that Kobe Steel has behaved negligently – and it could have easily been a different story.

And for what cause? Sadly, speculation suggests cost-cutting and high-profit targets have a big role to play in this scandal, resulting in corners being cut on quality control. With the company dealing with a low cash flow over the last few years, they’ve opted to cut corners potentially directly impacting thousands of unknowing consumers.

Profit before People

Whichever way it’s painted, the Kobe scandal is a shocking revelation. With such a large global presence and a direct impact on a huge number of consumer-facing companies, Kobe Steel have acted in a way that has the potential to put human life at risk in order to keep their own pockets lined.

Sadly, this is not the first-time numbers have taken priority over human safety, and we doubt it will be the last. However, as more people from all industries start to hold those we rely on accountable for their actions – we hope stories like this will become less common.