The International Labour Organisation (ILO) on Tuesday extended its deepest sympathies to the families of those killed in the recent building collapse in Kep province.
“The ILO is very saddened and concerned to hear the tragic collapse of a building in Cambodia’s coastal province of Kep on January 3 that resulted in the unfortunate deaths of 36 and injuries to another 23, who were all working when the accident happened,” the ILO statement said.
It also called on the government to pay greater attention to the risks that thousands of workers face every day and demanded immediate action to improve occupational health and safety.
The ILO noted that this was the second major collapse to occur in the Kingdom in less than seven months, following the one in Sihanoukville last June. It also noted that the latest incident is “the most fatal workplace accident in Cambodia in recent years”.
“Tackling this problem calls for action with respect to comprehensive measures that include a review of regulations and their enforcement in the construction sector, the introduction of occupational safety and health standards and building safety standards at all workplaces, intensified labour inspection and zero accident campaigns, as well as promoting a preventive safety culture in all workplaces,” it said.
The ILO’s statement follows Prime Minister Hun Sen’s announcement on Sunday at the close of the search and rescue operation that he held the construction foreman accountable for the incident after he used smaller metal bars than those recommended in the building plan.
In addition, the materials used to support each concrete floor were removed within 10 days of being filled with concrete, rather than in 20 days as per standard practice.
The foreman and his children also died in the incident.
Under the law, the victims could file a civil complaint to the court and demand compensation from the building’s owners.
Kampot provincial court spokesman Man Boreth could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
But some local media outlets reported that the court had decided to allow the owners, Euk Saron and his wife Chhiv Sothy, to post bail.
The couple was placed under court supervision on charges of involuntary manslaughter and causing bodily harm.
Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction spokesman Seng Lot on Tuesday declined to comment as he was preoccupied at Victory Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour told The Post that the ministry is still working on the case.
“The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training will cooperate with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to inspect buildings and take action against owners of construction sites, enterprises and foremen who violate the Law on Construction,” he said.
The ILO said it would “continue to engage with its tripartite constituents – the government, employers’ and workers’ organisations” – to improve occupational safety and health standards for workers.
Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) president Sok Sin said that, following ILO’s appeal, the government must implement its labour law and obligations more effectively.
“I urge the government to further implement existing labour laws. Whereas the government used to conduct a few site inspections here and there, it now has to conduct at least 10 to 20 inspections,” said Sin.