The Korean Construction Workers Union (KTWU) on Wednesday urged the labor ministry to enact safety measures to protect construction workers exposed to the sweltering heat.
The construction union, affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), said 81.7 percent of 3,206 construction workers said in a survey that they were working without breaks during the heat wave. More than half, or 1,762 people, replied they had seen a coworker faint or have had symptoms of heat-related illness due to the heat wave, according to union officials.
Twenty out of 29 heat-related deaths occurred in the construction industry, they said, citing data collected by the labor ministry from 2016 to 2021. Five people died from heat-related causes in July last year alone, according to the data.
The labor ministry announced guidelines for workers during the heat wave, but union officials claim the non-binding road map is not being followed on the ground. The guideline recommends that businesses take safety measures, such as providing water and allocating 10 to 15 minutes of regular breaks in case a heat wave advisory or warning is issued.
The Occupational Safety And Health Act, which requires employers to implement safety measures for people who work at high-temperature sites, does not include construction workers, even though they also work in the scorching heat, the union said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior and Safety raised the heat wave warning level to "severe," the highest in its four-tier system, at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the first time in four years amid the ongoing heat wave throughout the country.
At least 17 people across the nation died in connection with the heat wave over the weekend, according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency and fire authorities.
Source: Yonhap News Agency