Deaths Prove More Construction Workers at Risk

A construction worker plummeted nine stories to his death Tuesday in one of two separate fatal accidents this week at construction sites in Phnom Penh, police said.

Sun Sar, 18, fell nine stories Tues­day after a pulley snapped, releasing a basket of concrete that knocked him to the ground in Tonle Bas­sac commune, Chamkar Mon district police chief Ouch Sokhon said. The pulley at the unfinished condominium on Street 21 had become worn down over time, he said.

“The responsibility belongs to the worker’s manager, who allowed careless working conditions,” he said.

The construction company’s owner, Ut Chhorn, who is also chief of the National Audit Authority, could not be reached for comment.

Ut Chhorn has already reached a compensation settlement with Sun Sar’s family, Ouch Sokhon said.

In a Monday accident in Tuol Kok district’s Toek La’ak III commune, Cheng Sorn, 45, was smoking a cigarette when he slipped and fell from a steel beam on the second floor of an unfinished four-story apartment building, district police chief Mok Hong said. He died five minutes later, he said.

The 8-meter-high beam Cheng Sorn fell from had not yet been equipped with grips, he said.

Yoshi Kawakami, a health and safety specialist for the International Labor Organization, said that as Cambodia’s construction growth continues, more workers are at risk.

“There are many Cambodian construction workers who work in dangerous conditions facing serious risks,” Kawakami said.

ILO is assisting the government with safety-training programs and the formulation of a five-year plan to improve construction site safety, he said, but for now the amount of safety training is still limited.

Sum Sophorn, deputy director of the national social security fund at the Labor Ministry, said that safety-training drives are focused mainly on garment factories.

Sum Sophorn noted that it is difficult to even get companies to hold insurance for workers as is required by law. All companies are supposed to register with the Labor Ministry to show that they have insurance for workers, he said, but only two construction companies have done so.

(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)

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