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Workplace injury rate rises

Workplace injury rate rises

120724_03

Garment factory workers cram into the back of a transport truck at the end of a day’s work in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district last month. Photograph: Will Baxter/Phnom Penh Post

A spike in factory faintings contributed to a 65 per cent increase in the number of workplace injuries reported in 2011, a Ministry of Labour official said yesterday.

Leng Tong, director of the occupational health and safety department, said the ministry plans to introduce specialist safety committees in response to the 47 deaths and the more than 12,000 injuries that occurred in workplaces last year.

Although Tong could not provide a detailed breakdown of prevalent workplace injuries, he said faintings and traffic accidents involving commuting workers were widespread.

“We want to prevent labour injuries,” he said. “We know fainting is still increasing, as are traffic accidents – we’re worried.”

Tong said Cambodia had invited officials from Malaysia to train about 50 labour representatives over the next two weeks.

“The ministry has a master plan to create health and safety committees in each [workplace] as soon as possible.”

Yesterday’s announcement came as Better Factories Cambodia [BFC] launched its One Change Campaign, which encourages garment factories to take action to minimise mass fainting incidents. The program lists a number of recommendations and encourages factories to implement at least one of them.

They include training managers in first aid, providing subsidised meals to workers, increasing workers’ breaks, implementing anonymous grievance systems and improving transport for workers.

The campaign also recommends factories provide clean water, soap in bathrooms and proper ventilation – rights preserved under the Labour Law but often ignored.

BFC chief technical adviser Jill Tucker said the recommendations were designed to target causes of fainting such as poor nutrition.

According to the Ministry of Health, 16 incidents of fainting occurred between November 1 and April 30, but BFC consultant Maeve Galvin said the actual figures were much higher.

“[Faintings are] happening in factories all the time,” she said. “We’re not going to get all of that from the data.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Sen David at [email protected]
Shane Worrell at [email protected]

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