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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workplace deaths up

Rescue workers search through rubble for survivors at the Wing Star shoe factory in Kampong Speu province in May last year
Rescue workers search through rubble for survivors at the Wing Star shoe factory in Kampong Speu province in May last year. Pha Lina

Workplace deaths up

Workplace deaths shot up more than 60 per cent last year when compared with 2012, while injuries and payouts to those injured also saw dramatic increases, according to data released yesterday by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

Speaking during a conference at the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh yesterday, government officials said the sharp increase in deaths could be largely attributed to traffic accidents involving garment workers being transported to and from work.

Last year also saw more than 79,000 workers added to the NSSF registry in advance of the introduction of a national health insurance plan later this year and a pension fund slated for 2015.

“The health insurance program will benefit all workers’ well-being,” NSSF director Ouk Sam Vichea said at yesterday’s conference, which was aimed at promoting the new plan. “NSSF appeals to all factory owners and other employers to register with us so that their employees can receive these benefits.”

For the past five years, workers have been eligible to receive compensation from the fund in cases of on-the-job accidents. Before that, workers involved in industrial accidents received nothing.

The health insurance plan will compensate workers suffering from illnesses acquired at work, and the pension fund will contribute toward their retirement. NSSF manages all of the programs.

Although workers ill from work-related causes – such as chemicals on the premises – will be covered by the insurance plan, pre-existing conditions or diseases unrelated to the work environment will not be included, said Dr. Som Sophon, an NSSF deputy.

“We will pay for hospital treatments for work-related illnesses,” Sophon said.

In addition, the social security fund will pay for workers’ lunches when the health insurance plan begins covering registered workers later this year, Sam Vichea said.

Garment factories make up the lion’s share of workers registered in the NSSF, but it’s important that other sectors, including construction, are involved, said Dave Welsh, country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center.

Just below 17,000 workers were injured last year, about 2,600 more than 2012; and 92 workers were killed, compared with 56 in 2012.

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