When work accidents happen to foreign workers in Korea

Korea Herald posted an article entitled “Work Accidents plague foreign workers”. Reading this I was reminded of a video I saw on the internet several weeks ago. It was of a foreign factory worker who had an accident on the job. Apparently, he was wearing latex gloves while working on a machine. Part of his glove was “eaten” by the machine and since he couldn’t get his arm out, it was cut-off. On the video, you could see his co-worker removing his latex glove while part of his arm was still stuck on the machine. It was not a pretty sight to see and I couldn’t imagine how the foreign worker did not faint during that time. The Korean in the video could only shake his head muttering “aigoo” ~

Seeing that video made me realize how dangerous a job at the factory really is. And that’s probably one of the reasons why some Koreans would rather not be employed than work at 3D jobs ~ “dirty, difficult and dangerous”.

Photo from wikipedia ~ not foreign workers in Korea
Photo from wikipedia

According to the Korea Herald post:

Under the Labor Standards Act and the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act, the Labor Ministry offers compensation to Koreans as well as foreign workers when they suffer work-related injuries. They can apply for it without their employers’ consent.

But foreign workers find it difficult to receive compensation due to language barriers, low awareness of the scheme and irresponsible employers who try to cover up the accidents, local activists pointed out.

“Migrant workers are not aware that it is their right to file for compensation when they sustain injuries at work,” said Shekh al-Mamun, deputy head of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants’ Trade Union. “Even if they know about the scheme, most of them think the process is complicated and that they need to hire brokers or labor attorneys to apply for it.”

Foreign workers in Korea have the right to compensation and hospitalization when they encounter accidents at work. Korean companies have company insurance that they could use whenever things like this happens. (I own a business here and after registering with the tax office, I also had to apply for an insurance.) The insurance is called “산재보험” or “industrial disaster insurance”. The insurance should cover compensation even if the worker is illegally employed. However like what Korea Herald reports:

“For unregistered migrant workers, some employers seem to feel no obligation to help them get compensation or medical treatment,” she said. “They just threaten migrant workers that they will report their illegal stay to the authorities.”

What is the government to do? Of course they need to enforce stricter safety measures at workplaces. For the foreign workers in Korea, they need to be well informed about their rights. Luckily, there are non-governmental organizations willing to fight for the rights of the workers.

For read the whole article, visit Korea Herald.

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