SEJONG, Jan. 17 (Korea Bizwire) — The government will cut down on night shifts and introduce new safety standards to ensure the safety of street cleaners following a series of accidents.
The Ministry of Environment announced during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that it will work with a number of government branches including the interior, labor and transport ministries to improve working conditions for city street cleaners.
The measures will include new safety guidelines requiring cleaning vehicles to be equipped with 360-degree and rear cameras and additional safety devices on the cargo box cover, as part of efforts to reduce accidents by 90 percent by 2022.
The announcement comes following reports that 490 accidents occur every year on average among street cleaners in South Korea, many due to safety negligence.
Following criticism over the lack of safety, the environment ministry will set out new safety standards with plans to implement inspections every year.
In addition to making safety equipment such as safety helmets, shoes and gloves mandatory, street cleaners will be encouraged to work more during the day in order to avoid the fatigue that comes with working late at night.
The current cap on waste density of 0.25 kilogram per liter will be amended to address the health concerns of street cleaners who are often subject to musculoskeletal injuries, while new cleaning vehicles will be designed to cater specifically towards the reality of South Korean geography, where short-distance trips are frequently the norm.
The new trucks will include sitting space for workers who have in the past had no other choice but to stand on moving waste collection vehicles.
Aging cleaning vehicles in service for more than six years will be replaced, with an increasing number powered by renewable energy such as compressed natural gas or plug-in hybrid electric drivetrains.
Wage increases and welfare benefits for the 15,000 street cleaners are expected to be improved gradually, funded by increasing the price of garbage bags, the environment ministry said.
“We’ll work closely with related government branches, local organizations and civic groups to fundamentally address the safety concerns surrounding street cleaners,” said Kim Eun-kyung, the Minister of Environment.
Between 2015 and last June, over 1,400 street cleaners reported injuries including fractures, and 15 people died on the job, according to data from the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)