|Two Vietnamese brothers were killed in a construction site accident in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, Aug. 9. Newsis|
Gov't vows to examine safety measures of construction sector
By Anna J. Park
Recent data showed that one out of 10 construction accident fatalities in Korea last year turned out to be foreign workers. With the rapid increase in the number of foreign construction workers, it is expected that the number of accidents involving foreign workers could rise further in the future.
According to statistics released Sunday by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the total number of people killed in construction site accidents last year stood at 402, and 47 of them, or 11.7 percent, were counted as foreign nationals.
This was the first time for the government to disclose the number of foreign fatalities. The land and employment ministries have been releasing the total number of construction accidents and fatalities in the construction sector every quarter.
While no tally for foreign fatalities in this year's construction accidents has yet been disclosed, incidents of foreign workers dying at construction sites have continued to occur lately.
Most recently, two Vietnamese brothers were killed at a construction site in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, Aug. 9. They were pouring concrete, when the concrete floor suddenly collapsed. The brothers were only a year apart, and it's been known that the younger brother came to Korea about two years ago, following his older brother who had already been in the country for several years.
Two days earlier on Aug. 7, a worker in his 20s of Myanmarese nationality was crushed to death by a dump truck in Hapcheon, Gyeongsang Province. He had been working as a signalman at a highway construction site there. On Aug. 5, another foreign worker in his 30s died after falling while performing rope work at a construction site in Songdo, Incheon.
|A safety sign displays text in Myanmarese and Thai at a subway construction site in front of Seoul Station, Sept. 22, 2021. Korea Times photo by Jon Dunbar|
A study paper published by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed that the fatality rate among foreign workers in the construction industry was over five times higher than other industries, including agriculture and forestry, electricity and transportation. The death rate in the construction sector was nearly 20 times higher compared to the fatalities from the wholesale, retail and accommodation industries.
It's been pointed out that small and medium-sized companies are in further need of prevention measures and safety education for foreign workers.
The government, meanwhile, vows to closely look into the safety of foreign workers: "The government plans to closely examine whether there are any blind spots in the safety ecosystem of construction sites," Kim Oh-jin, the first vice minister of the land ministry, said earlier this month, following the death of the two Vietnamese brothers.