Police Drop Probe Into Fatal Fall

Police say they are no longer in­vestigating the death of a laborer who was not wearing safety gear when he fell from the third floor of an under-construction duplex in Phnom Penh on Monday—despite a city official saying the site manager should be held accountable.

Preap Saret, 52, was not wearing a helmet or a harness as he used a mechanical hoist to lift rock and sand up to the building’s top floor while standing on scaffolding at the site in Pur Senchey district’s Kakab commune at about 5 p.m., said district police chief Yim Sarann.

When the scaffolding gave way, Preap Saret fell to the ground and sustained serious injuries. He died at Preah Kossamak Hospital early Tuesday morning, said commune police chief San Pet.

Mr. Pet said his officers inspected the scene of the accident on Monday evening, but now considered the case closed.

“We are not going to investigate further,” he said on Thursday, re­fusing to explain the decision.

Sarin Vanna, director of the mu­nicipal land management, urban planning and construction department, said Preap Saret’s death was the fault of the foreman, who should have enforced standard safety practices, such as wearing helmets and harnesses.

“The worker who works at the con­struction site, according to construction safety rules, needs to wear a helmet and a belt,” Mr. Vanna said.

But laborers routinely break these rules, even when construction companies pay them an incentive to wear protective gear, he said.

“On foreign-owned construction sites, if a worker is not wearing a belt and helmet, they wouldn’t be al­lowed to enter the site,” he said. “The understanding of our people is limited.”

Neither the owner of the duplex nor the foreman could be reached for comment.

Moeun Tola, the head of the la­bor rights group Central, said accidents like Monday’s could be avoided if in­spections of construction sites were carried out more frequently, and safety measures properly enforced.

“The Ministry of Labor has been operating for over 20 years, but in terms of inspecting construction sites, the law is not enforced.”

(Additional reporting by Hannah Hawkins)

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