Is the school canteen safety and health manager a nutrition teacher?

The argument for the need for measures at the education office level to secure the safety and health of school lunchroom workers is growing in earnest. The purpose is to improve the way that the school district transfers the responsibility for safety and health to the principal and the principal to the nutrition teacher.

On the 20th, the Nutrition Education Committee of the Gyeonggi branch of the Korean Teachers’ Training Association issued a statement saying, “The safety of catering workers cannot be guaranteed by transferring occupational safety and health-related tasks to nutrition teachers.”

According to the National Assembly Education Committee, there were 2,537 industrial accidents that occurred in elementary, middle, and high school cafeterias nationwide from 2017 to 2020. About 700-900 cases occur continuously every year.

According to the fully amended Industrial Safety and Health Act called the Kim Yong-gyun Act, school cafeterias are also subject to laws and regulations similar to general cafeterias, but the concerns of field workers are not fading. This is because it is not clear who the canteen manager/supervisor will be. According to the administrative interpretation of the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the school safety manager and supervisor is the principal, but in many schools, nutrition teachers are still in charge of safety management in the lunchroom. Although some education offices entrust food service safety management to specialized agencies, many education offices remain the same.

The cafeteria workers are arguing that there should be measures at the education office level to ensure safety. “The safety management of school kitchens and cafeterias that use various high-temperature, high-voltage, and high-current appliances such as gas, electricity, and electric motor appliances should be professionally managed,” said an official from the ALL teachers. What we do is to maintain a poor system, which means we have no will to prevent industrial accidents.”

The position of irregular school workers is similar. An official from the school non-regular worker union said, “It is not right to shift the safety and health duties to nutrition teachers, workers who should be protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and hold them accountable. If this is not enough, consider entrusting some safety and health tasks to specialized agencies.”

An official from the Public Transport Union’s Education Office Headquarters said, “The responsibility should not be imposed on nutrition teachers, who must be protected by the law.” “The principal should be held accountable. There is,” he emphasized.

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