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More factories at risk: report

A security guard walks alongside a crevice at Nishiku Enterprise’s garment factory in Takeo province
A security guard walks alongside a crevice at Nishiku Enterprise’s garment factory in Takeo province on Tuesday morning after part of the factory’s floor collapsed. Vireak Mai

More factories at risk: report

A day after the floor of a Takeo province factory collapsed, injuring multiple staff, it was revealed that more factories could be at risk of the same fate.

“Building construction and design” is identified as the biggest risk faced by a sample of Cambodian factories whose building and fire safety were assessed by a team of experts in June, according to Jill Tucker, chief technical adviser of the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program.

Preliminary results of the assessment, released yesterday, were given to BFC after the factory collapse on Tuesday. The investigation was carried out by Filipino company ECCI into “seven garment factories and two footwear factories of varying size and age”.

According to Tucker, the report identifies a lack of rebar – reinforcing steel – in the ground slab as a point of concern.

“From what our staff said, the concrete slab was not reinforced” at the Chinese-owned Nishiku Enterprise factory, where part of the floor collapsed on Tuesday morning, she said.

Low concrete strength and quality was another risk highlighted in the report, which identified “the absence of formal codes and regulations [as] the primary factor that triggers factories to operate below international standards”.

“Cambodia doesn’t yet have building standards; that’s the first step,” Tucker said.

Chan Monika, director of human resources at Nishiku, said the factory had “invited a building inspector to evaluate the damage and estimate how long it will take to refit the building”.

In the meantime, she said, employees at the factory would be allowed to stay at home while still being paid.

“For the injured workers it is the responsibility of the National Social Security Fund to compensate them,” Chan said, adding that most had been discharged from the hospital.

Representatives of the NSSF could not be reached.

Phoeun Sophan, one of the injured in Tuesday’s collapse, said she was still suffering from low blood pressure and pains in her feet. Despite the factory’s efforts, she was concerned that the floor might collapse again. “When we’re allowed back to work I will request to be moved to a different place” on the factory floor, she said.

The final version of the report is to be released in the coming weeks.

This article has been amended to clarify that BFC did not author the report.

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