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AIP, USAID start factory commute safety campaign

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Garment workers travel in a truck on National Road 3 in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district last year. Hong Menea

AIP, USAID start factory commute safety campaign

The Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIP) announced the launch of a public awareness campaign funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and in partnership with the Solidarity Centre that will focus on improving safety for Cambodian workers while on their daily commute.

According to a joint press release, the organisations will be sponsoring the Speak Up Campaign to promote the programme. It will allow the voices of “Speak Up Champions” to be heard and encourage all stakeholders to strive towards increased safety for all Cambodian factory workers as they commute to and from work.

AIP said its Commuting Safety for Cambodian Workers (CSCW) programme aimed to raise awareness and change the behaviour of factory workers – especially those employed in major sectors such as garments and footwear – and their drivers through factory based-information sessions, dialogue and the establishment and reinforcement of road safety and transportation safety policies.

“The social media campaign will reinforce the message that change is needed to those who are most at risk,” the press release said.

AIP country director Kim Panga said at the press conference that the campaign was aimed at informing the public and media about the need for transportation safety reforms for factory workers.

“This campaign is to garner media attention and secure media coverage on the Speak Up Campaign and to promote the programme and allow our Speak Up Champion’s voices to be heard,” he said.

He requested that members of the media look for ways to increase the publicity levels for the campaign in order to encourage the participation of workers at other factories in improving traffic safety because it could save themselves and other workers from road casualties.

“The factory workers are collectively major contributors to Cambodia’s development through their provision of labour and income, which aids the growth of factories and enterprises and helps sustain their families and the communities in which they live. Therefore, we are protecting the health of the national economy when we protect them from road accidents,” he said.

He added that the 2,152 road accident-related deaths of factory workers in 2019 accounted for nearly 30 per cent of the Kingdom’s total deaths from road accidents overall.

According to a report by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), roughly 49 per cent of the workers who were affected by occupational hazards had encountered them in road accidents during their commute.

“Among the workers affected, about half of them were workers in the garment and footwear sectors,” Panga said.

The report said that in 2021, despite Cambodia facing the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions reducing the flow of traffic on the roads, about 209 commuters in the garment and footwear sector were the victims of road accidents each month.

In many cases, the injured workers had been hospitalised and then had to recover at home for many days or even months.

Others were disabled permanently and in some cases totally incapacitated by the accident and no longer able to support their family at all – so parents and other relatives were then required to take care of them around the clock – which further strained their family’s limited resources.

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