An accident at a Kandal province brick factory in which a nine-year-old girl lost an arm on Saturday was not initially believed to be a result of exploiting child labour, the provincial police chief said.
On Saturday in Khsach Kandal district, Chheng Srey Pheak’s right arm became entangled in a brick-making machine and was severed from her body before her father could help her.
Her family sent her to the hospital immediately for emergency treatment but it was too late to save her arm.
Srey Pheak’s parents, Chheng Bunhorm and Khim Channa, had left their home in Krala commune in Kampong Cham province’s Kampong Siem district six years ago, taking their daughter with them, to move to Kandal province to work at the brick factory, which is owned by Leang Srun.
Bunhorm said that on Saturday his role, as usual, was to pour soil into the machine while Srey Pheak and her mother would cut clay bricks off and place them on a handcart. Bunhorm would then take the bricks and place them to dry in the sun.
He said that at 9:30am, when he was carrying the clay from the cart to dry out, he saw his daughter’s right hand enter the machine and he rushed to save her.
However, Srey Pheak’s arm had already been ripped off. Her parents immediately took her to the referral hospital but she was sent on to a Phnom Penh hospital for specialist treatment.
Provincial police chief Eav Chamroeun told The Post on Monday that the police’s preliminary investigations suggested that children often followed their parents to play at their workplace and it was not a case of hiring child labour.
“We are still investigating, but we have not yet found it to be a case of hiring child labour. It is normal practice at the kiln. Generally, wherever the parents go, the children follow them,” he said.
Chamroeun said if the investigation finds that the factory was using child labour, then the authorities will take legal action.
Neither the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour nor provincial Labour and Vocational Training Department director Lim Sarom could be reached for comment on Monday.