The Reality of Female Construction Workers1)
In the construction industry, which is a male-oriented occupation, the entry of female workers is increasing. According to data from Statistics Korea's "Status of Employment in the Construction Industry," the number of female construction workers increased from 155,131 in 2015 to 221,000 in 2021. However, despite the increasing number of female construction workers, the working environment is still geared toward male workers. In a survey conducted by the Korea Women's Policy Institute in July, 284 out of 507 (56%) female construction workers said they were uncomfortable using the safety protective equipment. Among them, 163 (57.4%) respondents said they felt uncomfortable because the size did not fit well. Since the equipment is usually tailored to the male body, it hangs loosely on female workers. Wearing safety equipment that is not suitable for the body can lead to accidents, which is dangerous for female workers. In addition, the lack of facilities for female workers is another problem that they face. One female construction day worker, said, "There were only unisex toilets at the site where I worked, and the locker rooms are often shared with men, so I can't use them freely." As such, female workers are experiencing inconvenience for not even using basic facilities.
To improve this working environment, it is argued that the existing system should be strengthened. Article 32 of the current 'Rules on Occupational Safety and Health Standards' stipulates business owners should provide workers with protective equipment that is suitable for their work and working conditions. In response, So Byunghoon of the Democratic Party of Korea said, "We need to impose an obligation to provide protective equipment suitable for the worker's body by adding the condition 'appropriate for the worker's body' to the article." He stressed the need to make sure that female workers can wear the right size of equipment by specifying this clause. In addition, it is necessary to manage and supervise the facilities. According to the current 'Construction Workers Act', toilets and changing rooms should be installed separately when women and male workers work together at construction sites, costing more than 100 million won. However, when establishing plans for a construction site, there is a lack of awareness of women's inconveniences. In response, the Women's Committee of the Korean Confederation of Construction Industry Trade Unions urged the ordering organization to manage women's facilities. Although there are already laws in place, inspections are also essential to the improvement of the working conditions of female construction workers. Supplementation of these systems is essential to ensuring that female construction workers do not experience inconvenience or discrimination while working in the future.
1) Choi Yuna, ""Falling Down, Loose..." Safety Equipment for Female Workers, "Red Light"", Hankyoreh, August 16, 2021