During the heatwave in the first week of August, a cleaner was found dead in the break room at the Gwanak campus of Seoul National University at around 12:30 p.m. The resting area allowed for the deceased was a stuffy one with no air conditioning and no windows to avoid the heat wave. Cleaners were also vulnerable because they could hardly breathe due to the smell of mold, and they couldn’t stretch even if they laid down. Seoul National University was not the only university to have this problem. Cleaners at other universities say that the SNU accident was not unusual. A windowless space in a small room resembles an accident prone lounge. There was a fan thrown away by students to fight off the hot summer heat. However, the rest of the facilities for cleaners at Changwon University were different. The general affairs department said each building has an area where cleaners could rest. The department said the resting area is located on the fourth floor of the university’s headquarters and on the first floor of Sarim Hall. The fans are equipped with one water purifier per floor, so anyone with a personal water bottle can quench their thirst in the heat.
The Labor Ministry announced guidelines for resting areas last year, but it was only a recommendation. However, it is said that the recent incident has led to a signature campaign calling for improvements in work environments, focusing on the working environments of students, professors, and other members of the school. Through this incident, I hope universities in the province will be motivated to check workers' resting facilities. It is thought that a resting place where workers can rest and recuperate is a basic right. Resting facilities should also maintain an appropriate temperature and humidity for each season, provide clean air, as well as have necessary supplies for workers, such as ventilators, refrigerators and lockers.
By Kang Hwa-jeong, cub reporte firstname.lastname@example.org
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