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South Korea: Foreign workers more likely to die at work

Official figures have revealed that foreign workers are three times more likely to be killed in South Korea’s workplaces as Korean nationals. Data from the Ministry of Employment and Labor submitted to Rep. Kang Eun-mi of the Justice Party showed that one in eight (12 per cent) of the victims of work fatalities over the past 18 months were workers of foreign nationality. A total of 1,113 workers were killed between January 2020 and June this year, 135 of whom were foreign national workers. However, foreign workers make up just 4 per cent of the 24 million salaried employee positions in the country, suggesting their risk of death at work is three times that for Korean nationals.

“As migrant workers often take jobs shunned by Koreans, such as in agriculture, fisheries and the so-called 3D (dirty, difficult, dangerous) sectors, they are exposed to a higher risk of industrial or workplace disasters,” Rep. Kang said, stressing the need to increase preventive measures to ensure workplace safety.

Sul Dong-hoon, a professor of sociology at Chonbuk University, told The Korea Times that workplace discrimination may be one of the reasons for the high fatality rate among people of foreign nationality working in Korea. “In some cases, crucial safety equipment, such as gas masks and helmets, is provided only to Korean nationals. Employers should adhere fully to safety measures and recognise that the lives and safety of their workers are the top priority - irrespective of the nationality of the workers.” Read more: Korea Times. Source: Risks 1009

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