A steam boiler explosion at a Phnom Penh garment-cleaning factory ravaged the site and two neighbouring factories, seriously injuring four workers and leaving another 15 with slight injuries, according to officials.
As garments were being washed at about 9:15am at Korng Sun Factory in Por Sen Chey district’s Choam Chao commune yesterday, the steam boiler suddenly burst, sending debris flying, said factory worker Sam Chanly, who escaped the accident unscathed.
“Pieces of bricks, zinc and stone were blown in all directions,” he said. “It damaged a lot of stuff.”
But workers took a hit across three different factories, according to Yorn Sothun, deputy commune police chief.
“The incident injured two workers [at the site], the [surrounding] Fung Sin Factory and Tang Pheng Por company’s buildings were affected by the heat of the explosion, and another 17 workers were injured” at the latter two sites, he said.
The reason for the boiler explosion was unknown, Sothun said, adding that technical experts would investigate.
Six victims were sent to Phnom Penh’s Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, with four from the neighbouring companies left seriously injured, he said.
Korng Sun employees Chan Veasna, 21, and Siet Nam, 40, said they were hospitalised for a head injury and broken rib, respectively.
Contacted in the evening, Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital Director Ngy Meng said he did not know the six patients’ health statuses, while other hospital officials could not be reached.
According to a media release by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), Korng Sun was not registered with the body. Because of this, those injured are not entitled to financial compensation from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the statement said.
Moeun Tola, of labour rights organisation Central, said regardless of NSSF qualification, those injured should be compensated by the company.
Factories not registered with GMAC are likely subcontractors, an industry sector with a significant regulatory gap, Solidarity Centre’s William Conklin told The Post in April after a boiler explosion at an unregistered factory killed two and injured four more.
“All the major players – [government], brands and GMAC factories . . . all bear some responsibility in regulating and monitoring these factories and ensuring at a minimum there is compliance with laws,” he said at the time.
Ministry of Industry and Handicraft spokesman Soeun Sotha said he did not know if Korng Sun was registered with the ministry, the government body in charge of boiler inspections, while other spokesmen could not be reached.
Regardless, Tola said improved inspector training and stricter regulations were needed to curb a rise in steam boiler explosions, with at least four accidents this year.
“There should be serious improvements to the quality of steam boilers . . . and there are regular [factory] inspections [that] need to be strengthened also, including the steam boilers,” he said. “It is not a good time for the steam boilers in Cambodia at the moment.”
A representative of Korng Sun declined to give his name or comment on the incident, while Tang Pheng Por and Fung Sin representatives could not be reached for comment.
Additional reporting by Janelle Retka